One of the revelations I discovered musically this year was the release of Ashes Grammar from a Philadelphia band oddly named A Sunny Day in Glasgow. As I wrote in my review, the album is “an impossible dream of an album, laid out like a delicate meal.”
So it was with great interest and excitement I saw the band was coming to Athens for a December date at the Secret Squirrel, a musical venue which neither advertises nor cares if you know where it is or what goes on there. Hidden from plain view, the Squirrel is one of Athens special places, a subculture in a town of subcultures.
Dan Deacon played a famous show there earlier this year, with two sets, one at 10 p.m. with a band of 15, and a 4 a.m. show with just him, lots of electronics, absolute darkness, and 100 or so dancing people all about.
Not the typical spot, to be sure, and with no sense of when anything starts, a night at the Squirrel could be over by 9 p.m. or 5 a.m.
On this night, after a trio of fuzzed out noise bands (some better than others), Sunny Day hit the stage a little after midnight with a tidy set of sundry songs, danceable riffs, and dreamy lyrics supplied by Robin and Lauren. Starting out a little slow, the band wasn’t sure to make of the place it was playing in, but warmed up in the latter half of the set. Failure and The White Witch, two of the highlights off Ashes Grammar, lit up the audience and set several people dancing. The 50-minute set was perhaps a bit short (Grammer comes in a little over and hour), but was satisfying nonetheless.