Cornucopia: Full weekend of tip-top tunes

Athens Boys Choir and Amy Ray
at Starr Hill
Friday, April 22

Fighting Gravity
at Starr Hill
Saturday, April 23

at Atomic Burrito>BR>Saturday, April 23

Every once and a while I suit up and hit the town with no particular destination in mind. Sometimes I stumble upon a gem, a bit of hidden talent hidden beneath the layers of heavily publicized or recognizable music acts Charlottesville has to offer.

Friday I wandered into Starr Hill not knowing what to expect. When I finally caught the visual of the two individuals on stage, it took me a moment to figure out exactly what I was seeing: two short androgynous individuals reciting poetry on the state of gender in America.

The words were eloquent and the delivery quite convincing. In the end, they had cleverly raised a mountain of questions about how we as common folk subjectively and objectively define gender.

The duo was the Athens Boys Choir. I'm not sure if they were boys (actually I'm pretty sure they weren't). They definitely weren't a choir, and I didn't bother asking if they were from Athens.

What they were was the opening act for Amy Ray, one half of the singing songwriting duo The Indigo Girls. Amy Ray has strayed off to dig her own trail with a new sound and a new band. The one thing that hasn't changed is her voice. Whether laying down the folky flavor (Indigo Girls) or singing over her new rock-tinged ensemble, she still belted out convincing notes courageously executed and inviting to the ear. Her band were no slouches as they moved through heavy pop-rock stylings to perfectly complement Ray's storytelling.

The next night I set out with the same no-place-in-particular plan in mind. I ended up back at Starr Hill in time to catch the beginning of Fighting Gravity. Fighting Gravity became popular because of their ska-influenced rock sound. These days they rock more than ska, and I'm not quite sure it was a turn for the better.

They began with a couple of hard-rock ditties to build intensity. I wasn't a fan of the singer's lyrics, but he definitely is a grade-A performer. After two or three of the rockier tunes, they finally dropped back into the ska sound. That got the crowd pumping, a sure sign that the fans dig them in that capacity much more then in the pop-rock format.

Halfway through the set, I jetted out the door and on to Atomic Burrito for a little rock-a-billy courtesy of Rylo. I went was because I saw their name scribbled on the bathroom wall in Starr Hill– stellar promotion, if you ask me. Rylo was probably the best act I saw all weekend.

Not only were they down to earth, but they really looked like they were having fun performing. Atomic is a small, cramped venue, but everyone there seemed comfortable nodding along to the five-piece crew spread out in the front window. Rylo's originals were very tight, and they were relaxed and on-point with execution.

The quality of their performance made me think they might be headed for bigger things– soon.