For the first time this year, Pabst Blue Ribbon brought Project Pabst to ATL. (The festival had previously been exclusive to Portland since it’s conception in 2014.) Project Pabst roared through our beloved city as a third leg of the tour on Saturday, October 1st, and will wrap in Philly this weekend. Project Pabst delivered a killer lineup, “Pepper” a 22 ft. unicorn, and enough attitude to drive the most successful neighborhood block party in the middle of East Atlanta Village to date.
Local establishments stayed open for the fest allowing attendees to drop by Argosy, or the The Glenwood for a burger and beer, and even take it to go en route to some tunes. I was lucky enough to have lunch at The Earl with Atlanta based post-punk trio, OMNI, before they took the stage later that afternoon. (Interview to come.)
OMNI coincidentally wound up being the first band I caught that day at the Unicorn stage. Members Philip, Frankie, and Billy were unfazed by the heat, dropping a smart set of mostly songs off of their debut album, Deluxe, which was released earlier this year. Crowd favorites, “Wire,” and “Afterlife” kept the crowd on their toes with unexpected hooks around each corner. The overall sound was unlike anything I had ever heard, which was refreshing and exciting.
On the other side of the village, Santigold took to the stage to give her audience one Hell of a dance party. The performance was elevated by deadpan dancers, bringing fierce beauty and athleticism and helped make the overall performance a weirdly wonderful celebration. The Brooklyn-based artist sizzled through many hits including, “Chasing Shadows,” and “Banshee,” from her recent album, 99cents, and classics like, “Creator,” inviting a handful of audience members to participate in an onstage shimmy shakedown. Being in a prime spot, a small stampede of fans who were chomping at the bit to dance onstage herded me along for the ride. After some brief panic, I decided to go with it, jamming out with these familiar strangers, who, like me, share a passion for genre crushing Santigold.
Post-shimmy I stopped by Vintage ATL, where a guerilla pot luck was in full swing. The friendly bunch welcomed me to their party with neighborly conversation and booze, then I was off to catch The Internet’s sundown set. The tipsy, sunkissed crowd was ready to groove to the complex sounds from the neo-soul crew, based out of LA. After a slightly rough start, they found their sweet spot and had us all drinking in the mellow vibrations. Before Syd tha Kyd crooned us with, “Just Sayin’/I tried,” he led the audience in a chant of, “You fucked up!” a cold-hearted anthem for unsuccessful relationships.
As the night drew near, my heart began to beat in anticipation. I knew I wanted to be a certain level of intoxicated by the time Run the Jewels closed the main stage performances. So, I met up with friends at Gaja for Soju shots and chicken skewers, then headed to the Captain Pabst stage to find my spot within the masses for my first hometown RTJ performance.
The reality of the Jewels’ set exceeded expectations and elevated us to another dimension, where Killer Mike and EL-P were the Mayors of millennial city. Along with crowds, I shouted and jumped for joy like a kid on Christmas morning as each song was unwrapped. The lyrics of the songs are political by nature, and my mind continued to be blown as the audience completed each line with unified perfection during, “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry,” and “Love Again (Akinyele Back).” Before the guys rapped, “Lie, Cheat, Steal,” Killer Mike went in on matters of state, calling out everyone from trigger happy police to the corrupt board of education. The pinnacle moment of the evening was their encore set where the duo captured us with a single from the newly announced album, RTJ3.
My Project Pabst experience left me musically satisfied, and my belly full of beer. I met incredible people, and connected with my city in a fantastic neighborhood that continues to surprise me with it’s block party magic.