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  THE POSSIBILITIES w/ The Eskimos and Two Cow Garage  
  The Caledonia  
  Athens, GA  
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When I sat down to write this concert review, I had one preeminent thought in my brain: there are Athens band, and then there are Atlanta bands. I thought about the differences between the two musical scenes and the types of indie rock bands they tend to produce. I planned to discuss the jangly, 60s-esque semi-psychedelic pop that comes out of Athens; in contrast, Atlanta bands tend to either be harder rocking, or more haunted in their instrumentation. However, once I started considering the issue further, I was easily able to come up with exceptions to this rule, even among my favorite bands in each scene. So clearly, my distinction was an artificial one: a false dichotomy meant to make my review black and white and easier to understand.

And yet, in the back of my brain, this original statement remains true. But if itís not the type of music that divides the two cities, what it is? I guess itís this: the Athens bands Iíve seen always seem to sound better in Athens clubs. Similarly, the Atlanta bands somehow come across better in Atlanta. This isnít surprising, but why is it so relevant to me? And I suppose it primarily comes back to the middle band on this evening: The Eskimos. But before I can talk about this further, letís talk about the rest of the evening.

I hadnít heard of Two Cow Garage before we got to The Caledonia, so I wasnít sure what to expect from them. However, I was pleasantly surprised when they began to play a very twangy semi-country sound. Although people around me suggested that this band was a fair representation of the Columbus, Ohio music scene, my only experience with Columbus was Lazy (a female led pop punk band) and this music certainly wasnít that. However the music was good albeit a little languid at times, with a vocalist whose singing bore a strong resemblance to The Drive-by Truckersí Patterson Hood. Very enjoyable, and certainly worth checking out if they make back down this way.

Next up were The Eskimos, the band that inspired my rambling thoughts above. The first time I reviewed The Eskimos, I really didnít like them at all. However, since then theyíve undergone a lineup change and released a new album. Furthermore, people whose musical taste I trust told me they were much improved. Still, about a month before this show, I saw The Eskimos again (this time at The Star Bar in Atlanta). Yes, they were much better than I had remembered. However, on that night, there was a flatness to their sound, and at times they sounded off. In short, based on the previous show, I was willing to revise my opinion and say they were a competent band, if not an excellent one.

But then I saw them at The Caledonia, back on their home turf in Athens. Iím not sure if it was the difference in the sound mix, or simply a more inspired performance, but whatever it was, on this night I was impressed by The Eskimosí sound. Like a more rocking version of Ashley Stove (or a less crunchy sounding Sugar circa Copper Blue), The Eskimos are able to combine catchy guitar riffs with a driving beat that induces head-nodding (if not outright dancing). Furthermore, I found myself wishing I was more familiar with their songs, if only so I could discuss them more coherently. Still, I liked some of the more psychedelic twinges (like the falsetto backing vocals on one song), and I really really liked the primary singerís Doug Martsch-like voice in the context of the more rocking songs Anyway, suffice to say, The Eskimos were quite good, and I look forward to seeing them again. In Athens.

After The Eskimos went off, Athensí The Possibilities took the stage. As you might know, Iím quite a big fan of theirs, and I like to drag my friends to see them whenever they play Atlanta. However, like The Eskimos, the last time they played Atlanta (also at The Star bar), they came across as a solid jangly pop band, one that my friends would go see if they were playing on a bill with another good band, but not strong enough to stand on their own. I suppose it was because the harmonies were a little off, and the set seemed a little sluggish. They came off as a good bar band, but not quite as excellent as I like to present.

Again, however, at The Caledonia, they too showed their true colors. Showing off the near perfect harmonies and guitar echo that drive the band, The Possibilities played a mixture of old and new songs to an audience that was filled with friends and admirers. In some ways it was reminiscent of my favorite Rock*a*Teens shows -- very loud, very loose, and ultimately very fun. And for the first time in a long time, I began to feel that simple joy I get from watching an excellent band perform for the love of playing. So what if every note wasnít perfect? So what if it wasnít the most professional of shows? It didnít really matter -- everyone was having a great time. And when they finished their set with Downtown Dream, my evening was more or less complete (although I wish they could have played longer) and overall I was very pleased.

So what does it mean? I come back to my original maxim: there are Athens bands and there are Atlanta bands. But this dichotomy is not because of some huge difference between the scenes (although those do in fact exist, sort of). Rather, it would seem that the largest difference is one of comfort. When you get a band on their home turf, with a sound guy whoís used to working with them, you get a much better impression of what the bands can do. And thus, they shine.

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