Bands from all around the United States will be in Athens this weekend to take part in the 13th annual Lobsterfest.
Lobsterfest is a music festival planned and promoted by the student-run radio station, ACRN Media, to share their passion for music with the Athens community. The festival is free and open to the public.
The festival will host a wide range of local and national artists. The headliners are solo, indie/fold artist Waxahatchee from Philadelphia, and the rock/electric band Suuns, from Montreal.
Other artists and bands include Ryley Walker, Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate), Container, Pinkwash, Adia Victoria, Growwing Pains, Megawave and several other local acts.
“I just think it’s great that we can get a lot of excellent, up-and-coming indie artists to come to a place like Athens,” said Eli Shively, the album reviews editor for ACRN Media. “There’s always lot of talent and diversity in the lineup, and this year is no exception.”
Lobsterfest will be highly significant for local bands such as Wished Bone and The Wandering Lake. This year’s event will be their last show in Athens before they relocate to the West Coast.
“The lineup is perfect. Waxahatchee is one of my all-time favorite artists, and it was put together by some really incredible students,” said Megan Fair, the general manager of ACRN Media. “It’s the perfect tangible experience that is evidence of how much hard work and creativity we put into ACRN Media.”
Shively said that in the past, Lobsterfest has hosted artists such as Cloud Nothings, who’ve gone on to have big careers, and Deerhoof and Tim Hecker, who are already well-established.
Bailey Kretz, the promotional director for ACRN, said that she believes the headliners keep getting better and better every year. Some of Bailey’s favorite musicians have come in previous years.
“I never thought I could top those,” Kretz said. “But my goal this year was to step outside of what my favorite musician is and to book people that I know the majority of people in the music scene will be excited about.”
Performances will take place at ARTS/West and Jackie O’s tonight starting at 7:30 p.m., and continue at Casa Nueva on Saturday at 10 p.m.
Limited commemorative stickers, posters and buttons will be available to purchase both nights of the event.
The venues change from year to year based on the type of performances, the amount of money received from the university, and the locations’ availability.
While it used to be more campus-oriented when it started back in 2003 as a small event on South Beach, it has moved to local venues around Athens including Casa Nueva, Jackie O’s, Central Venue, ARTS/West and the Union Bar and Grill.
“The Union was always a staple of Lobsterfest,” Fair said.
Kretz said the event used to feature mainly local bands or students who worked for ACRN Media who were playing and headlining. Over time, the event kept growing into a more legitimate festival with help from the university.
While it started as an independent study, over the years it has become imbedded into the structure of ACRN Media and is a major part of the organization. Fair said ACRN Media members wanted to have the skills required to book and execute a festival before they left for college, so they found a way to teach that skill.
“For the past few years it has been functioning as a multi-day, very professionally-run music festival,” Kretz said. “I’m really excited to see how Lobsterfest actually comes together.”
There will also be a virtual reality film being made at the festival. The virtual reality film is an idea that Maddie Pinney, the founder of Jettison Magazine, originally pitched to a speaker during a class that she had with Fair. That speaker will also be attending Lobsterfest and will meet the team that Pinney assembled to produce the film.
The event is organized on an entirely volunteer basis by ACRN Media, with the hopes of spreading their excitement for music.
“It’s a huge labor of love,” Fair said.
Planning for the event begins around the first week of school and continues on throughout the year. ACRN Media members reach out to artists, reserve the venues and find artists to design flyers and merchandise.
“It’s one thing to be planning it and imagining how it will go for the past year, but all the preparation in the world won’t tell you what the crowd will be like, what the vibe will be, and how everybody receives the event,” Kretz said. “Obviously, I think everybody is going to have a blast, so I’m just excited for them to be able to experience my dream.”