PRIDE RIOT: An Epic LGBTQ+ Punk Show
Southern towns aren’t usually known for their level of LGBTQ+ acceptance, but Augusta has steadily become a shining example of how it should be done. 2018 marked the eighth year of Augusta Pride, and every year it seems to grow more. In fact, the Garden City is now home to the second biggest Pride festival in the state. Augusta Pride is arguably the most colorful weekend of the year downtown. Pride gives local LGBTQ+ members the chance to openly express their true colors in a safe, accepting environment. While the big kickoff was the Pride parade downtown, there was plenty of partying to go around the whole weekend, both night and day. On the night of June 23rd, many Pride patrons found themselves over at Augusta’s premier all age venue, The Epicenter, to catch the punkest pride show this town has ever seen; PRIDE RIOT.
“Earlier in the year, an idea popped in my head. I noticed more and more open support for LGBTQ+ individuals in the Augusta scene and I wanted to celebrate that, along with the rest of the Augusta community during the city's pride week,” says Marisa Williams of BullMoose. Marisa continued, “I pitched the idea to my good friend, Epicenter co-owner, Muuka Vogel, and he ran with it. He built the bill from the ground up, slapped a clever name on the event, and well, the rest is history.” Thus PRIDE RIOT was born.
ACHTUNG kicked off the night, setting up on the floor in front of the stage, inviting folks to come closer. PRIDE RIOT was the four piece noise punk group's debut performance, and needless to say, they were a hit. Once they began, it was like an explosion went off in the middle of the room. Driving power-noise flooded out of the venue's front door, enticing showgoers to join in. Dirty vocals bursted out of lead singer Muuka Vogel’s windpipes as he slammed into the crowd, dressed in bikini top and sweat-stained makeup. It was a perfect start to the night.
The first to perform on the actual stage was Gloom Cocoon. GC has long been a staple of the Augusta scene, so naturally, their pizza-fueled psychedelic punk rage was a treat. The trio got the crowd moving with their classic beats and relatable, politically-driven lyrics. I was so caught up in it all that I didn't realize that the group's guitarist Adams had walked off stage to take care of a broken string mid-set. After they popped out a few more bangers, GC closed their set with a punk-infused cover of "Lola" by The Kinks, and killed it.
The only out of town band for the night set up on the stage next - a five piece set of ladies looking to trample. Groggy Tramps is a powerhouse whose music features deep bass, powerful drums, distorted noisy guitar, and two singers sharing riot grrrl-type lyrics. It was a very fun set, one that was incredibly driving and theatrical. The heavy sound coming from the group and the energy they put off really got the crowd going. With a quick shout out to their merch guy (“TAYLOR!!!”), they headed off the stage to a cheering new fan base.
BullMoose has been playing in Augusta for sometime now, and while they hail from Statesboro Georgia, we can pretty much call them a local band by now. Each time I’ve seen them perform, they are a stronger and fiercer unit than the last. Playing during Augusta Pride added an extra layer of happiness for them, and they put on a show to reflect that feeling. Ripping into their signature song “Calling Bull” always gets the crowd going, but it seemed that each song really dug into the rock’n’roll feel of the night. It was more than just an atmosphere of a party in the audience, even though you had to watch your back each time to make sure the pit wasn’t about to absorb you into its ever growing embrace. It was a collective celebration of life. They closed their set with “Gay Bar”, a song which was pretty vicious by musical standards. Their whole set ripped, giving way to the final act of the night.
While Pepper Spray is a younger band in the area, the four-piece really brought the punk and rock atmosphere onto the stage. The crowd was enthralled by their performance and displayed their excitement by dancing like mad. The best part of their act was a fan getting on stage during their self-titled song “Pepper Spray” and spraying the audience and the band with copious amounts of silly-string. Even during their anti-golf/masters song about how much they hate the sport (and I do mean hate, they stated this over and over) the night never swayed the way of spite or violence. The audience reveled in the experience, and by the end of the evening, everyone was covered from head to toe in buckets of sweat, but couldn’t be happier about it. This was truly an impressive performance from the group, whose sound hails from deep in the musical past, with a youthful spite that real rock music absolutely deserves.
Marisa: "When the music stopped and the lights switched on, I found myself wiping the sweat out of my eyes just to get a clear look at the dispersing crowd. I saw the exhausted smiles of old faces and new. PRIDE RIOT was a success. It added a special little something to Augusta’s Pride celebration. It was the icing on the cake, the cherry on top of a pride month Sunday. It's too soon to say, but we're probably going to see this event return for round two next year. And whether you're a punk, or just a scene kid, or whatever, you're not going to want to miss out."
GLS contributor Adams, as well as Marisa of Bullmoose contributed to the writing of this article.
Show flyer designed by Muuka Vogel.