The coolest venue in town is the Secret Squirrel. it’s pretty much an abandoned warehouse with musician types living in the rafters. By day it seems a bit sketchy, so tucked away it probably doesn’t have an address, with creaky stairs and off-kilter decorations [and mannequin collections] that shouldn’t see daylight. But at night this rough-around-the-edges place is the coolest place in town, especially since only the freaks and weirdos [or their naive first-timer friends] are the only ones who know exactly where it is.
This place, then, is perfect for local band Muuy Biien. This Athens, GA, quintet are just as benignly rough-around-the-edges as the venue itself. Before and after shows you can see them tucking away PBRs, the lead singer and two guitar players clad in all black, cigarettes dangling from their lips. Their music contributes to this dark, sketchy image, making them perfect for the room of exposed pipe, supporting poles and the walls of amps and gear belonging to all the other bands playing that night.
I saw them early March at the Secret Squirrel. Because the Squirrel isn’t bound by closing time laws, the boys didn’t hit the stage until around 3 in the morning. But neither they, or the crowd, showed any sense of fatigue. Lead singer Josh Evans is sheer intensity. He spits out his lyrics and stalks around the stage going from one song to the next without any introduction. Any gaps in the music are just for Josh to take a breath and glower at the crowd before tearing into the bass and drum intro to the next song, and the next. The guitar lines are tight and driving, the bass doesn’t let up, and every time this band plays, the crowd acts as if they are out for blood.
While Josh’s voice and intensity might harken back to old school punk, the rest of the band is so tight and well practiced there isn’t a sloppy punk vibe to them at all. I’m witnessing these guys play in what amounts to a sketchy basement, but while Josh might embrace an abrasive, shouting anger, the rest of the band releases their anger in a way that makes you think, wow these guys are really good. Good in the sense that they are tight, they are together, they move as one dark, cohesive entity that explodes on stage for one moment of intensity. They didn’t just pick up their instruments for the hell of it, they know what they are doing-that’s how they can be at once barebones and minimal but yet not have any gaps in their sound. They are always an absolute pleasure to see live. I like to stand in the back, taking in everything as one piece the dark venue, the late hour, the unrelenting music and the unrelenting crowd where no one stops moving or playing or dancing. They obviously pour every last bit of themselves into their music and the crowd returns the favor.