Greensboro Fest Highlights Depth and Variety of Greensboro Music Scene

For the last five years, a small sample of the diverse, talented, and ever-growing pool of Greensboro bands have been coming together at the beginning of the school year to show the city what they’ve got, all thanks to “Greensboro Fest,” a concert series that two aging scenesters thought up on a whim. John Rash and Zach Moll, two founders of the fest, originally came up with the idea as a way to show young people who may be new to the city of Greensboro that there is, contrary to popular belief, a lot going on here.The structure of Greensboro Fest is simple: four nights of free shows at four different venues around town. It’s meant to expose people to the most active Greensboro bands by playing shows at the most active venues. Each year, at least one of the shows takes place at Guilford.

This year, the night of Sept. 6, saw music fans, college radio DJ’s, and political activists alike descending on Sternberger Auditorium for the first night of the fest.

The bands playing were Adam Thorn & the Top Buttons, Invisible, Sugar on Shit, and I’ll Think About It, who opened the show with their brand of slow, quiet, brooding acoustic folk songs.

After a raucous, energetic set by punk band Sugar On Shit, and a puzzling, psychedelic journey with experimental noise band Invisible (which also features two Guilford alumnus, Jonathan Henderson ’05 and Mark Dixon 96′), headliners Adam Thorn & The Top Buttons took the stage. They played a style of music that Thorn coined “mod-soul,” incorporating influences from classic British bands The Who, and The Jam, and classic 60’s and 70’s urban soul artists such as Curtis Mayfield and Soul Survivors.

Usually one wouldn’t see bands as different as this share the same lineup, but perhaps that’s the point of Greensboro Fest: to highlight the wide variety of sounds that the Greensboro music scene has to offer.

“Every year there’s an influx of new students and new faces in Greensboro,” said Rash, who played bass for six years in a Greensboro punk band called The Crimson Spectre. “They kind of know there is some music scene, but it usually takes a few months for them to find out about it, to find out who the bands are, where the venues are. We wanted to create an event for newcomers interested in music, to find out about what’s going on in the Greensboro scene.”

“There are definitely some scenes where punk kids stay at punk shows, and the indie kids stay at the indie shows, and even though people may hang out in cliques here, at shows it’s not like that,” said Rash, who uses the fest to highlight the musical diversity that makes the Greensboro scene unique. “You have more diversity with bands that play together. Some dude that plays a harp is not afraid to play a show with a metalcore band.”

One of the key elements of the Greensboro music scene that both Rash and Moll stressed is that they believe the Greensboro scene is accessible if you want to play music, or if you want to contribute to it in other ways. “Hopefully Guilford first years will realize that they can easily get to a show at a venue downtown like Two Art Chicks. It’s not that far by car, it’s not that far by bike. We want college students to realize that being a part of the Greensboro music scene off their campus is not hard to do,” said Moll.