Review and Photos By: John McNicholas
The first time I heard Bully was in the early days of 2014. A blog posted the song “Brainfreeze.” I clicked and from the first listen I was hooked. 90s indie rock via The Blake Babies, Juliana Hatfield, Dinosaur Jr. and the Lemonheads, with a voice that stopped me in my tracks. That snarl. That sweetness. At the time Bully didn’t even have a proper website so I clicked over to their Bandcamp page where they were selling their first 2 tunes on limited edition green vinyl 7”. Being in my vinyl obsessive mood at the time I scooped it up as well as their next few releases when they came along, each one better than the last.
YouTube – Bully “Brainfreeze”
When I caught them out at SXSW in 2014 I was hooked. They were fantastic but still finding their feet as a band. When I saw they were playing in Atlanta in support of their new record, Feels Like, I knew it would be a great show. The venue, The Drunken Unicorn, is a great sounding room, and very intimate.
Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth and the Jesus and Mary Chain blasted through the speakers before and after each band. The mood was being set.
Athens band, Oak House kicked off the night, heavy on the grunge musically while being fronted by Gresham Cash with a delicate voice that brings to mind Thom Yorke from Radiohead. The juxtaposition of heavy and sweet was a perfect balance and the crowd really dug ‘em.
Next up, Spines. They mixed a bit of the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs post-punk frenetic energy, with some experimental guitar tone and a powerful singer. They took the stage for 30 minutes and never gave it back.
Bully took the stage around 11pm and launched into the new record’s first single, “I Remember” with a vengeance and with a little conversation sprinkled in, “We had no idea if anyone would show up or not,” they barrelled through 10 tunes from start to finish in 40 minutes. Highlights included “Brainfreeze,” “Sharktooth” and the set closing tune, “Milkman,” which launched a crowd of girls up front into a pit for its duration. Live, Alicia Bognanno’s vocals are a force of nature. That snarl could peel paint but it’s the sweet melodies that bring you back for another listen.
After a quick encore break, guitars howling against the amps, they returned to the stage with a 90s college rock classic, “Left of the Dial” by the Replacements. Ears still ringing, everyone filed out into the night with huge smiles on our face.