Futurebirds at Fitzgerald's, 8/2/2013
Friday night, Athens, Georgia-based alt-country rockers Futurebirds made their way to a crowded Fitzgerald's for a rambunctious showcase of their tunes. The Washington Avenue crowd found itself a bit north of its normal destinations, as people crowded the upstairs venue with their collared shirts and heavily perfumed girlfriends.
Upon arrival, opening band Diarrhea Planet was just finishing their set, with their guitarist shredding his last few notes in the middle of the growing crowd on the floor. It sounded fun, and from what I was told before they're a band not to be missed, but due to prior engagements photographing Courtney Love, I was unable to catch the majority of their set.
While the posted start time of 10 p.m. was more of a guideline -- Futurebirds actually didn't get started until a quarter til 11 -- the bartenders surely didn't seem to mind, as their tip jars were being stuffed at a regular rate. I'm not really sure when Futurebirds became so popular, but they had no problem selling tickets to this show. There must have been a memo passed around the offices of BP or something like that, because the business-casual crowd was out in full force.
The band came on in a fury. Guitars were certainly the theme of the show -- at any given time they had three or four layered over each other. Their songs are more on the country side of indie-alt, but they really seem to shine when they reach almost jam-band territory, hitting highs that I've only seen bands like My Morning Jacket reach.
In fact they did remind me a whole lot of MMJ; one of the guys even looked eerily similar to Jim James. When they slowed things down though, their sound differed from the Louisville rockers and sounded more like their hometown brothers the Drive-By Truckers.
The crowd kind of killed the mood at times, specifically when Futurebirds brought down the tempo of the show. I'm not sure if the majority of the patrons were there to see live music, or because their friends were there for the show, but whatever their motive was, it surely wasn't to pay attention.
I think the band just decided to scrap the slower songs halfway through in favor of the fast-paced, energetic ones because of how loud and chatty the crowd was. It's kind of a bummer that a band has to do that, but in the long run it made for a better, much rowdier show. They somewhat forced everyone to be into it by the end of the show, just due to the sheer energy of their set.