Pabst Blue Ribbon, the go-to choice for beer on the cheap since 1844, may not be everyone's cup of tea (or beer), but Its indie resurgence in the new millennium gave PBR the hipster cred they needed to create Project Pabst in 2014. It started as a small-scale music festival based in Portland, Oregon that brought together an eclectic lineup. From Modest Mouse and Tears for Fears to GZA and K. Flay, Project Pabst was a surprising success for the company.
After another excellent run in 2015, Project Pabst expanded the festival to include festivals in Philadelphia, Denver, and Atlanta in 2016. This year, the Atlanta festival will take place over a full day on October 7 in East Atlanta and features a diverse lineup of up-and-coming artists, local legends, and all-time greats. For anyone attending who is unaware of some of the artists performing, this quick guide should give a good rundown on who they are and what to expect.
((Read to the end for a special surprise!!))
The Godfather of Punk himself, Iggy Pop, will serve as the main headliner at Project Pabst, in what will be his first live performance in Atlanta since 1999. Known for his rowdy and energetic stage presence, he fronted The Stooges in the late 1960s to early 70s, pioneering a dirty and aggressive form of garage rock that would serve as the basis for punk. After almost six decades of working in the music business and collaborating with artists like David Bowie, John Cale, and Lou Reed, Iggy's iconic stage presence and passion for creating great music and live performances haven't wavered one bit, and his set will be one you won't want to miss, if for no other reason than to see one of rock music's greatest living legends in the flesh.
Indie darlings Dinosaur Jr. are no strangers to Georgia, making many stops in Atlanta and Athens over their 30 plus year career. A power trio fronted by lead singer and guitar god J Mascis, with equally talented Lou Barlow on bass, and Emmett Murphy on drums, their bombastic form of noisy indie rock brought them a large cult following over the years, especially in Athens. Known for their powerfully energetic and loud live performances, it would be a good idea to remember to bring earplugs.
Beginning in 2011 as an offshoot project of famed rap collective Odd Future, The Internet has spent the last few years honing their blend of hazy R&B and trip-hop into an interesting sound all their own. Lead vocalist Syd's smooth delivery combined with Matt Martians' slick production skills should make for an interesting and engaging performance in the live setting where they'll be using a full band that should elevate their music to new heights.
Throughout 22 years of making music, Toronto-native Merrill Nisker's project Peaches has been consistently providing our ears with catchy and dirty pop tunes, all the while representing gender identity in a bold way that translates well into today's progressive social climate. Expect her Project Pabst set to be audacious, wild, and downright fun.
Watch The Duck
Alabama natives Watch the Duck morph trap and dubstep into a peppy and bass-heavy extravaganza that follows the so-called "trapstep" movement of the last few years. If the trio's lively music is any indication, you can be sure that their set should be a full-on "party", and not a typical show, as Watch the Duck themselves describe it.
Being from Atlanta, indie outfit The Coathangers should feel right at home when they bring their strikingly irreverent and daring style of punk rock to Project Pabst. While the band is clearly inspired by the riot grrl movement of bands like Bikini Kill and Sleater-Kinney in the 90s, they have a brazenly cool and confident originality to their music that's rarely seen in other punk rock bands anywhere these days, much less in the Atlanta area. Expect these hometown heroes' set to be a memorable one.
Ruby Velle & The Soulphonics
The Atlanta presence continues with Georgia's Ruby Velle, whose slick voice will be a nice getaway for people who are into the soulful side of Atlanta's music scene. Taking inspiration from classic R&B and Amy Winehouse and backed by the talented jazz-rock ensemble the Soulphonics, they're sure to be one of the more pleasant performers of the day.
Gentleman Jesse & His Men
These guys are sure to be one of the most entertaining bands of your day at Project Pabst. Gentleman Jesse & His Men made waves in Atlanta's college radio scene, which is where I discovered them. They have a seriously great ear for vintage power pop, which includes the likes of Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe, that they combine with the short and sweet punk ethos of The Ramones to create bouncy and infectious rock tunes. Expect their show to be a great one.
Continuing with Project Pabst's awesome representation of smaller local bands, Atlanta death metal group Withered is by far the heaviest band playing the festival. Their tortured and, should I say, withered approach to blackened death metal makes them one of the most unique Georgia metal acts of the last 15 or so years. To have them at a festival like this with so many genres and walks of life being presented makes their appearance something special. Get ready, headbangers, this one will be a doozy.
The Difference Machine
When a musical group's Facebook page describes their genre as "religious 4th dimensional," there's no way that their music can be anything less than next-level. As evidenced by our interview with Difference Machine's headstrong frontman DT back in August, there's a strong sense of spirituality that's incorporated into their experimental twist on hip-hop. Their set is sure to be a heady and psychedelic one, and one of the more lowkey acts at Project Pabst that you won't want to miss.
The Powder Room
Sludgey and loud is the name of the game for noise rockers The Powder Room, and whatever stage they're going to play on is certain to send reverberations through the PBR-drenched crowd. Equal parts rambunctious and heavy, their show is going to be a good one for anybody that appreciates a good ol' rock n' roll kick-in-the-ass from time to time.
Not much information could be found about Atlanta-based post-punkers Glare outside of a six-song EP which can be found on the group's Bandcamp page, but that EP was enough to convince me that these guys are a local act worth watching out for at Project Pabst. Expect moody gothic rock with a cool touch of Siouxsie and the Banshees, and for Glare to be one of the best sleeper acts to perform at Project Pabst on Saturday.
These guys are a cool discovery. Atlanta-based Dicaprio incorporates dirty punk chords and a cool, upbeat energy to their music, and a powerful vocal delivery from singer Russell Rockwell seem to harken back to the days of British post-punk dominance. It looks like their upcoming set is shaping up to be a fiery and engaging one.
With a lively punk sound mixed with goth rock swagger, Atlanta's Illegal Drugs are shaping up to be one of Project Pabst's most overlooked acts. Singer John Robinson has a mysterious allure to his voice that gives Illegal Drugs an interesting, druggy twist on their post-punk revival sound. Be sure to check them out if you're into bands like Wire and Joy Division.
If you like your rock music to be rough, snotty, and to-the-point, look no further than Baltimore and Atlanta-based garage rockers RMBLR (pronounced Rambler). Filthy and fun power pop is their style, so look forward to their set being a massively enjoyable one.
Online information on Lord Narf is limited, but what I do know is that she is an R&B singer from Atlanta that utilizes psychedelic tones and cloudy, trap-inspired beats to create an interesting and hazy sound with production reminiscent of Emile Haynie's work with FKA twigs. I forsee Lord Narf as being one of the underdogs to watch out for on October 7th, so don't miss this one.
It's interesting to see this group so far down in the lineup. An independent hip-hop trio with roots all up and down the East coast, Goldyard have recorded some serious bangers during their seven-year career. Make sure to check them out before they get signed so you can tell all your friends that you discovered this seriously dope group before anyone else.
A Drug Called Tradition
Low-key psych rock with a Southern-fried twist is what you can expect from hometown rockers A Drug Called Tradition. Mix that with a vintage collage of psychedelic music from decades past in the same vein as The Brian Jonestown Massacre, and you get an interesting palette from these guys that should be on your radar at Project Pabst.
Project Pabst is all about shining a spotlight on the cool local bands that you may not have heard of, and all the way down at the bottom of the lineup (but certainly not the bottom in terms of quality) is the sludgy and psychedelic Vincas. Describing themselves as "deathrock," Vincas' catalog of badass tunes will for sure be a great way to ring in an awesome day of music at a festival that's expanding and getting better every year.
Project Pabst is sure to be a hell of a good time, and you can still purchase tickets for it here. Also, Bullet Music has teamed up with Project Pabst and So Ba Vietnamese Restaurant in EAV to give away a pair of tickets to the event and a chance for the winner to interview Ruby Velle and the Soulphonics! Enter for a chance to win here.