Project Pabst, the festival which debuted in Portland in 2014 and quickly expanded into a four-city series, returned to East Atlanta Village for its second annual run on Saturday October 7th. The daylong festival produced by Rival Entertainment, featured three stages, including a mainstage and local stage outdoors and a smaller club stage located inside The Earl. Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, which has experienced a bit of a resurgence in recent years, has cultivated a bit of indie hipster cred, and that relationship was certainly reflected in the solid but eclectic lineup of musicians on the bill.
While ostensibly billed as a music festival, Project Pabst drew a crowd with more than just the promise of great music. There was a distinct block party vibe with the inclusion of interactive art displays like the graffiti van, and multiple entertainment diversions including a tarot card reader and even a PBR barbershop. There were awesome food options from both local establishments and a number of food trucks, and of course, with Pabst Blue Ribbon putting on the festival, there were plenty of full bars offering reasonably priced beer, including a limited edition Project Pabst 16 oz. can designed by a local artist.
Despite the threat of rain in the forecast (which thankfully never materialized) and mostly cloudy skies overhead, we set off to sample the sights and sounds of Project Pabst Atlanta. With a relatively small footprint, the festival immediately felt more intimate and laidback than some of the larger summer music festivals. After wandering around the site and getting oriented, it was off to the Unicorn stage to catch festival openers Ruby Velle & The Soulphonics. The Atlanta-based band laid down a wicked set of Stax-influenced soul mixed with elements of R&B, jazz, and rock. The band delivered some tight grooves, but it was Ruby Velle and her powerful yet soothing vocals, reminiscent of Amy Winehouse, that stole the show. The performance was mesmerizing and certainly started the day off on the right foot.
With the festival starting to crank up, we decided to shift sonic gears a bit, and slid over to the Captain Pabst stage to catch Lord Narf, the local female rapper who rose to prominence through her association with Awful Records. Her set mixed some psychedelic experimental sounds with trap-inspired beats that definitely resonated with the crowd. She is definitely a talent to keep an eye on… As the crowd steadily filled in, we cycled back to the Unicorn Stage for the wild and irreverent punk of the Coathangers, another hometown Atlanta band who never fail to impress with their unrestrained performances. The bouncing back and forth between outdoor stages set a pattern that held for the rest of the day. We caught several notable performances, including A Drug Called Tradition, Goldyard, Watch The Duck, Peaches, The Internet, and Dinosaur Jr., before closing out with a barnstorming set from Iggy Pop.
At 71 years old, Iggy Pop shows no signs of slowing down. The eternally shirtless Iggy played what amounted to a greatest hits set with songs pulled from across his career, including some early Stooges classics like “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” “Gimme Danger,” and “Search and Destroy.” Solo career highlights included the ever popular, but borderline overexposed, “Lust for Life,” as well as “The Passenger,” “Nightclubbing,” and recent hit “Gardenia.” Iggy even threw in “Repo Man,” the song he contributed to the soundtrack of the classic film with the same name. Throughout the set Iggy remained in motion bounding across the stage and even out into the crowd. His enthusiasm was appreciated and returned by the wildly cheering crowd. The iconic Godfather of punk still has it, and his set was the ideal way to close out the outdoor stages and put a cap on what was an entertaining and successful festival. We are already looking forward to what next year might bring.
Project Pabst Music Festival @ East Atlanta Village – October 7th 2017