Athens, Georgia has long been a fertile ground for rock bands of pretty much every stripe, from the obvious, world-conquering bands like REM, The B52’s and Neutral Milk Hotel, to the big names of recent years like The Drive-By Truckers, Widespread Panic and Phosphorescent; for a town of roughly 115,500 people, the level of talent is pretty absurd. As someone who spent nearly a third of his life living in the gloriously music-rich town, and much of it working in and around the music business, I’d like to think I have a pretty good grasp of what’s going down in The Classic City. As such, I feel it’s my duty to hip y’all to the amazing show that’s about to take place at Mississippi Studios on Monday (3/30), when psychedelic country rock six-piece Futurebirds roll into town, the group I consider “The Next Great Athens Band”.
Futurebirds most obvious strength lies in the fact that the band features three songwriters in Thomas Johnson, Carter King and Daniel Womack, each of whom is talented enough to front their own band. The three songwriters have put their egos aside for the betterment of the whole and instead share a common vision that has sustained the group since its 2008 inception. Their ability to impressively trade off songs, harmonize wonderfully and create a wave of Crazy Horse-esque reverb-drenched guitars that would have surely made Danny Whitten smile is at the core of the Futurebirds sound.
Anchoring the three frontmen are drummer Johnny Lundock, bassist Brannen Miles (who also writes) and the band’s secret weapon, pedal steel maestro Dennis Love, whose command of his instrument is the perfect compliment to the madness going on around him. With four guitars onstage, and three of them in the hands of men whirling and head banging like it’s their final show, it’s impressive that Lundock and Miles manage to not only avoid getting lost in the shuffle, but manage to stand out at times.
I’ve seen Futurebirds in legendary Athens rooms (The 40 Watt and The Georgia Theatre), an Athens church, The Bowery Ballroom in NYC and in front of untold thousands at Bonnaroo (I get around), and each time I’ve marveled at the band’s ability to mix barely-controlled rowdiness with the sublimely bittersweet. Futurebirds are the epitome of a band that leaves it all on stage, and I highly suggest investing in several PBRs and heading down to Mississippi Studios Monday night.
Tickets are $12 (purchase here), Jackson Boone opens.