PBR has long seemed to have a connection to the music scenes around the country, providing cheap beer in dive bars where many bands have gotten their starts. Over the last few years, PBR has been getting itself more involved in the music scene beyond just being the beer of choice to crush on stage. 3 years ago they unveiled their Project Pabst festival in Portland to much success. This year, they expanded Project Pabst into 4 cities, including partnering with Portland Festival MusicfestNW For ‘MusicfestNW Presents Project Pabst’, a bigger 2 day festival in Portland and one day stops in Denver, Atlanta last weekend, and Philadelphia to come.
Each of the Project Pabst festivals offer different lineups, curated to involve not only big names that would appeal to those cities, but also local grown talent. Project Pabst promised to offer a unique festival experience in each of the respective cities, incorporating music, art, hands-on interactive elements, as well as food and beer at reasonable “non-festival” prices ($3 Pabst Blue Ribbons!). In addition to the music, festival goers had the option to be entertained with the old school video games in the PBRcade, the PabstVandalism interactive graffiti art display, and Pabst Wax, which featured on-the-spot pressing of vinyl recordings that the fans create themselves.
For Atlanta this weekend, Project Pabst followed through on their promises and more. Project Pabst took over Glenwood Avenue and Flat Shoals Road in East Atlanta Village with two outdoor stages, one in front of Graveyard Tavern, and a bigger stage in the field next to Argosy. In addition to those stages, 529 hosted the Project Pabst Comedy Stage during the day and a late night lineup of music after the main stages ended. The EARL also hosted their own day time shows and late night sets.
The streets around these intersections of East Atlanta were shut down, providing a new unique perspective on the lovely village just across 20 off of Moreland Avenue. With no cars in front of the eclectic shops, bars and restaurants, and the ability to go in and out, up and down the streets with PBRs in hand, the village took on a quiet beauty that most of us tend to forget that exists there everyday. PBR has always been highly visible in East Atlanta Village, you can call it hipster, but that would be naive to what EAV really is. Sure EAV is definitely eclectic, but it’s a very diverse neighborhood with one common bond: community.
Project Pabst sure seemed to hit the right buttons in the community to put this festival together. East Atlanta was the perfect place for it. Instead of being a corporate takeover, the extra PBR signs fit nicely around the village. And hey, why shouldn’t EAV have a unicorn in the middle of the village! For the patrons of the fest, it was a nice to come out and explore the village, catch up with old friends, and enjoy music from old friends and new. Project Pabst was a small one day festival that wasn’t overcrowded, but with a smaller scale lineup that could still match other festivals in Atlanta like the one in Midtown.
The true win for Project Pabst had to be the booking. Project Pabst clearly leaned on the local music scene to put together this lineup, including PBR’s Field Marketing Rep in Atlanta, Luis Sandoval, whose always been heavily involved in the scene. Artists such as Mastodon, Run the Jewels, Santigold and NOFX could probably each sell out the Tabernacle on their own merit. Not only are those name bands, then consider that Mastodon and Killer Mike (Run the Jewels) are both local Atlanta heroes. While the big names brought in plenty of outsiders to the village, let’s not forget all of the early acts that showed more diversity, with name bands and local with their own strong followings and friends to share in the festivities.
The day did start off on a sour note after it was announced before the festival began that Charles Bradley was sick and couldn’t make it. Yesterday they announced that doctors have discovered a cancerous tumor in his stomach, canceling the rest of Bradley’s tour while Charles promises to fight and come back stronger than ever. Sad news for the Screaming Eagle of Soul, and definitely a disappointment not to be able to see him live again. We wish nothing but the best for Charles Bradley and a speedy recovery.
The show must go on though, and Project Pabst did a little switching around of the schedule to adjust to Bradley’s absence. To kick off the fest, Atlanta got a little taste of Portland with the female fronted, no frills attack of Summer Cannibals. Next up on the Unicorn Stage came Atlanta’s own Bad Spell, featuring members of the Forty-Fives, Tiger! Tiger!, and The Booze, offering some pure fuzz rock ‘n’ roll.
Switching back over to the Captain Pabst Stage, Real Estate, another name indie band out of NY/NJ brought the sunny day vibes to a beautiful early fall Saturday in East Atlanta. Real Estate showed off a new member, Julian Lynch who replaced Matt Mondanile on guitar. And with the new member, the band also showed off some new material the band has been working on to the enthusiastic Atlanta crowd, including new song “Harpsichord”. While some may think Real Estate sticks out amongst the rest of this lineup, it was clear that we all were vibing strong with the band.
Next up came local favorites Omni on the Unicorn Stage. Omni has been receiving plenty of national buzz leading up to their debut album, Deluxe, released this summer in July via Trouble in Mind Records, and Atlanta was happy to celebrate with the innovative band. Omni brings a little funk to their danceable, hook laden lofi rock that’s full of punches. The crowd took to the band with songs like “Afterlife”, “Wire”, and “Earrings”.
Santigold was next, packing in the crowds on top of the hill at the Captain Stage. Coming out in a bright yellow outfit with “We Buy Gold” written down the dress, and back up dancers holding Cheetos and Powerade, Santigold enthralled the crowd with her blend of musical stylings. Santigold has earned the buzz and showed off to Atlanta why she appeals to such a diverse audience.
While all of this was happening outside in EAV, inside The EARL were day time sets from Atlanta locals Midnight Larks, Dino Boys, and BITERS providing a whole other set of energy that the people enjoying the beautiful day outside probably didn’t even realize was happening. We got to catch some of BITERS set, sending shockwaves to our eyes as we went from the bright outdoors to the dark inside back club. But the shockwaves weren’t just from the change in lighting, BITERS were putting on a hell of a show to a packed house, showing why the band has earned a worldwide reputation for their live shows, and bringing Atlanta back to the heyday of rock ‘n’ roll of the 70’s and 80’s. The real party clearly started at The EARL early in the day at Project Pabst.
Titus Andronicus was next up over at the Unicorn Stage, thrilling the Atlanta crowd that likes their indie rock over on the heavier scale, showing why the New Jersey band has built up such a following over 10 years and 4 albums, including last year’s rock opera, The Most Lamentable Tragedy, their first on Merge Records.
The real party outside got started with NOFX over at the Captain Stage. There was no doubt that the legendary punk band out of San Francisco would have East Atlanta raging, that’s exactly what we did. While the band was a little late to get their set started, as the technicians got their stage and sound set up, the energy built as chants of “Fat Mike” and “NOFX” rung through the crowd. As soon as the band came out, they were ready for a good time, and the crowd sure was right there with the band.
The Internet, whom were originally birthed out of The Odd Future Collective, closed down the last set at the Unicorn Stage, bringing their own enthusiastic fan base over to that side of East Atlanta that was their specifically to see the sultry, six piece band. The Internet brought a mixture of electro pop, R&B, hip-hop and jazz fusions that provided Project Pabst with one of the best sets of the day. The Atlanta crowd was grooving hard with the band as the sun began to set across EAV.
By the time Mastodon hit the Captain Pabst stage, EAV was lit and ready for the heavy metal rock gods to slay their hometown. This was a celebration, and the crowd went wild for the hometown heroes. PBR’s were chunked in the air (and dropping like bombs on the poor photographers), hands were in the air, and the people of Atlanta raged under the dark skies.
What was so great about Project Pabst was that no matter who you are, what your background is, or what your usual choice of music is, this lineup not only had something for everyone, but the artists that made up this lineup could be easily appreciated by fans of the artists on the complete opposite side of the spectrum. Run the Jewels fans weren’t upset having to wait through Mastodon, Mastodon fans dug into what Santigold was putting down.
Run the Jewels closed the night with the best set of the festival. And there wasn’t a person in the audience that couldn’t appreciate what Killer Mike and El-P were dropping in East Atlanta. To say EAV was hype by the time RTJ went on would be a huge understatement. Atlanta got a taste of Run the Jewels 1 & 2, and a preview of Run the Jewels 3, which should be out early next year. “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry” and “Lie, Cheat, Steal” and “Early” with BOOTS provided particular highlights. Killer Mike’s son took a dive into the crowd for a little surfing, and even Big Boi made an appearance, joining RTJ on stage for some quick hard hitting verses.
Run the Jewels were off the chain at Project Pabst, closing down the festival with a set Atlanta won’t soon forget. But the party didn’t stop there with late night sets going on at The EARL and 529 with Jacuzzi Boys, Nots and more raging late into the evening. And now that it’s all said and done, we can only hope that the strong relationship between PBR and East Atlanta Village continues with future versions of Project Pabst coming back to Atlanta, and maybe just maybe, future versions will be as good as the first.