Inside Irrelevant Music Festival's 529 Closing Ceremony

Irrelevant Music Festival celebrated its fourth successful anniversary this year. Hosted between two hallmarks of the Atlanta music scene: 529 and the EARL, the festival brought together a wide collection of artists from Atlanta locals Material Girls to Baltimore’s Ed Shrader’s Music Beat, all to provide music lovers with a refreshing insight into local art. 

This celebration of the DIY music scene finished on Saturday, July 20, and I had a chance to gather some snapshots of that closing ceremony as well as some advice for musicians just starting out.

The amicable 529 check-in guy, Will Rhame, was nice enough to chit-chat with me while I worked up the courage to talk to some of the bands. Outfitted with a large tent to shield off rain from him and festival goers and a big cup of coffee, Will was ready to face the long night ahead with the last band going on at 11:50 pm. He’s worked at 529 for a year and a half now and enjoys it very much.
Kristin Storck | Avant-Youth
From left to right: Bryan Scherer (guitarist for Dark Red), Tyler Roberts (guitarist for Blammo), and Hayes Hoey (vocalist for PureJoy).
Kristin Storck | Avant-Youth

We talked about the writing process, what makes certain bands work and others not, and advice for young musicians. “I like what you once told me about this being like playing baseball for some people on the weekends. You’re not going to be a pro, you’re not going to make a lot of money, but you just want to practice your pitch every day. Just do it, just have fun,” said Martin de las Heras (drummer for Blammo) pointing at Tyler. 

Before I left, Tyler asked if they had sufficiently provided a good message for “the youth.” When I reassured him that they had, Tyler offered these parting words: “I just don’t want people to think anything is exclusive… And talent isn’t real.”

Hayes Hoey (pictured above), the creator behind the solo-act PureJoy, describes his music as “soft drama."
Kristin Storck | Avant-Youth

True to this description, PureJoy’s performance was a very soothing almost spiritual performance to start off the night. Immediately after this song, Hayes requested to make the lights as low as possible. His eyes remained closed throughout the entire performance, and as he swayed and danced with the mic cord coiled in his arms, I was struck by the intimacy of the whole performance. With nothing but a looper and his voice, PureJoy provides an ethereal, emotional sound.
Listen for yourself.

Kristin Storck | Avant-Youth

Blammo was the second act of the night and I was taken with their upbeat, punk style. The vocals of the lead singer and bassist, Sarah Prewoznik, particularly stood out to me as she threw her voice from high to low pitches with an animalistic sort of playfulness. 

When asked about advice for musicians just starting out, Sarah said, “I didn’t get into this until I was mid-20’s and I didn’t feel like I could when I was a consumer of music in my early 20’s, because it was a boy’s club. Now, I’m like it doesn’t really matter my skill level as much as the willingness to do something. I just wouldn’t worry about skill as much. Being good at something comes second to doing something. It was the caring about being good that kept me from doing this in the first place,


Listen to Blammo here.

Kristin Storck | Avant-Youth

Before/After listening to Lyonnais. But seriously Lyonnais’s performance was an incredible, overwhelming experience, one that I can only describe as a meditative destruction of my eardrums. Started by longtime friends Farbod Kokabi (pictured above) and Farzad Moghaddam, Lyonnais is an experimental rumination on shoegaze and drone. This was truly a wild performance to end the night on.

You can listen to Lyonnais on Spotify.

Pictured above is the band Dicaprio.
Kristin Storck | Avant-Youth

Russell Rockwell, Dicaprio’s drummer, when asked what his advice was for younger musicians said, “No advice.” He then laughed and said, “Don’t be afraid to give up on something if it’s not working. If it’s not clicking with whatever people you’re working with or whatever you’re working on, just move on to the next thing.” 

Yancey Ballard from the band Shouldies introduced Russell to the other members about four years ago and they’ve been playing together ever since. Dicaprio’s lead singer, Kale Svvick, also celebrated his birthday at the festival and everyone sang happy birthday to him after their set. 

Listen to Dicaprio on Spotify or here on Bandcamp.

Liz Hayes, one of 529’s bartenders, worked Friday night of the festival as well. She said it was pretty busy, but not so bad for the bar. “It’s mostly kids drinking cheap beer, but that’s most of what we cater to anyways,” Liz said.
Kristin Storck | Avant-Youth

An honorable mention goes out to the band Warm Red, but unfortunately the pictures I took of them are too blurry and dark. Their fast-paced, hardcore sound wowed the crowd, particularly the lead singer, Tony Gary, whose showmanship reminded me almost of Freddie Mercury, who impishly asked, “is it me?” in response to all the raucous applause. The guitarist of the band, Bryan Scherer, when asked advice for young musicians, said he wanted to “pass on the torch,” and that “the more you do anything, the better you’ll get at it,”
You can find their debut album “the way felt feels” on Spotify and also on Bandcamp.

Warm Red's merch, including some very on-brand hot sauce. Kristin Storck | Avant-Youth
Kristin Storck | Avant-Youth
Kristin Storck | Avant-Youth

529’s sound engineer, Dennis Bowen, declined being photographed, but he let me snap some pictures of the sound board (pictured below), handy cup holder and all. Dennis is also the mind behind solo experimental electronic band, USGS, who performed on the first night of the festival. 

In an Immersive Atlanta article, I read that Dennis stated that he got most of his creative inspiration from Facebook ads. When I asked him to be more specific, he said that “just the wide range from specialty t-shirts to skincare to car insurance” gives him all the creative fodder he needs. He also said his favorite thing about sound is that he “can turn it down.”

You can listen to USGS here.

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