There’s a whole lot going on musically in Athens, Georgia, always. Besides being home to the eclectic and psychedelic musical group Elephant Six, Athens has a thriving local music scene with plenty of unique venues. Spots like the sweaty 40 Watt night club or the musty basement of the Secret Squirrel, a DIY space located under a vintage thrift store. It might be a prime place to party for New Year’s, especially if you’re in a band, Athens’ Futurebirds are migrating north. They plan on ringing in New Year’s with a group of DC friends, playing for them tonight in an intimate house show setting.
The Futurebirds would do this, of course. The six-member band of multi-instrumentalists swap around guitars and banjos and sing together with enough charisma to stir their audience into song. This makes them portable too, when they chose to be. The guys went down to South by Southwest last year, and before heading down, said in an interview that they heard the showcase festival was no fun. But on their website, two videos labeled “SXSW 2010″ show the band in high spirit and true form.
In one video, Futurebirds plays for a group of bystanders in a dim-lit underpass. And it’s through this type of burst of impromptu music, so heartfelt and real, that expresses more of what being a musician is like than any showcase. In another video, the band sits cascaded and scattered outdoors on a stone staircase, their right arms moving in synchronized harmony as they strum banjos, acoustic steel guitars, a nylon, mandolin, and ukelele. One spectator sits on top of the stone wall with feet swinging to the beat.
Futurebirds have gone through the motions of many bands; going on tours to share music from the EP and their album Hampton’s Lullaby, getting stuck in Colorado with a broken transmission, getting to see the country and bizarre places like West Hollywood. They even did some shows with Dead Confederate, and now they’re getting excited about some January dates with Drive-By Truckers. But for a moment, Futurebirds is just kicking back whilst on the road to enjoy the DC scene and good friendships at the end of a year, and the start of a new one.