On Friday, Feb. 20, Augusta is being invaded.
Don’t worry. It’s not the sort of aggressors that leave a trail of violence and destruction behind them and there certainly is no pillaging planned. Instead, these invaders, from the not-so-faraway city of Athens, are bringing that community’s ideas about performance and art and, well, performance art to Augusta for a matched set of shows at two Broad Street venues.
A BAND CALLED THE GLANDS. The Glands, a beloved but still somewhat underrated act will play a rare out-of-town gig at Sky City, with the recently reconstituted Augusta act Debt of Nature as the opener. Doors open at 8 p.m. with music at 10. Admission is $5.
Although often lumped in with ‘slacker rock’ acts such as Pavement and Dinosaur Jr., the Glands, who released the album Double Thriller in 1998 and an acclaimed eponymous release in 2001, the band’s aesthetic is actually carefully composed and executed American indie rock that draws on elements of the ’60s British Invasion, folk rock and the loose-and-easy college rock acts it is most often compared to.
Part of the pleasure of the Glands is the band’s willingness to cultivate – consciously or not – a certain air of mystery. The band has never officially broken and yet appearances are infrequent and recordings even more so. The members’ relative reluctance to talk about their music, career or process and the band’s reputation for stellar live sets only increases its stature both in and outside of Athens.
Such is the strength of the band’s faithful following that when the Georgia Theatre reopened in 2011, it was the Glands that played the first set.
THE APE EVOLVES. Kenny Aguar is another Athens mystery. To many, he’s known simply as the 8-Track Gorilla, an alter-ego that has been aping for audiences for more than 15 years.
Originally established as a performance art piece, the typical 8-Track show involves said man in a monkey suit (seriously) singing along to eight track tapes (again, seriously) – often accompanied by back-up singers, go-go dancers and the occasional circus or burlesque performer.
His performance at 9 p.m. Feb. 20 at Joe’s Underground will be a tribute to the late, great Lou Reed and include a full performance of the singer’s legendary Transformer album.
While there are those who have dismissed 8-Track as a one-trick pony – or ape as the case may be. The truth is what he is doing – and the reason he has remained an Athens art and music fixture – is far more subtle and carefully orchestrated. His is a true fan’s celebration of kitsch and music. It’s a show built to engage an audience that recognizes and embraces the absurdist humor of a man in a monkey suit busting out rock classics while still maintaining a certain sense of reverence for the songs he is singing along to.
Aguar, as the 8-Track, might don a costume to sing Lou Reed songs, but he is never dismissive of the man’s talents or influence. Is it an odd collision? Most certainly. But I’m pretty sure that is why it works.