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20th Lobsterfest rocks ‘n’ rolls into Athens

This weekend Ohio University’s rock radio station All-Campus Radio Network, or ACRN, is hosting Lobsterfest, its annual music festival.

The music festival runs April 12-14, with shows at The Union, located at 18 W. Union St., Friday and Saturday, and one show at the Scripps Amphitheater, located at 32 Park Place, on Sunday. The cover fee for attendees who are 21 years old and above is $8 and it is $10 for those who are under 21.

Headliners include the shoegaze group They Are Gutting A Body of Water, indie rock group Hotline TNT and the alternative band villagerrr. Several local Athens bands are also playing, including Saddlebags, Snail Satan and Plant Clones.

Sophia Hoffman, a junior studying media arts production and ACRN’s general manager, said Lobsterfest started as a student project from the Honors Tutorial College and has evolved over the years. The festival has hosted notable acts like Machine Girl and JPEGMAFIA, she said.

“This is actually our 20th Lobsterfest, which is super exciting,” she said.

Hoffman also said these years are a major bounce back for Lobsterfest, as the COVID-19 pandemic made live music performances incredibly difficult.

“COVID was really, really difficult for us,” she said. “We (ACRN) lost a lot of members, there were very minimal people who wanted to be on exec board and I feel like we've just completely transformed that and Lobsterfest is such a big representation of ACRN. It's a huge event for us.”

Lily Manoukian, a senior studying music production and ACRN’s promotions director, works closely with Hoffman to book acts and bring musical diversity on stage. 

“I really wanted to book a variety of acts and really try not to have a lot of repeat acts from show to show, especially since Lobsterfest is the biggest thing that we do all year,” Manoukian said. “I really want to give a lot of local bands here the opportunity to play.”

Hoffman emphasized this is a major project, and all departments of ACRN need to work together to make Lobsterfest a success.

“(We need) our visuals department, who makes the posters and who creates the content,” Hoffman said. “And then there's our promotions department which is in charge of all of the booking and organizational elements of the event, and then editorial that covers the entire thing and social media that is … livestreaming the entire thing. It’s just all these little pieces that come together.”

With the large amount of work that goes into planning Lobsterfest, it can be demanding for the ACRN members involved. However, this demand does not make the final product less enjoyable.

“I'm excited to get all of our artists on the stage and see it all come together,” Manoukian said.

Booking big names for a music festival in the middle of Southeastern Ohio may seem near impossible. Many artists performing on Lobsterfest’s stage this year made appearances at South by Southwest film festival, and headliner Hotline TNT is playing at Pitchfork’s music festival. 

Manoukian said although some bands that ACRN books usually perform for a lot more money than they can offer, they ultimately come because of Athens audiences.

“After Wednesday played Lobsterfest last year … I went up to Carly, who's the front person of Wednesday, and I was talking to her a little bit after the show and she said, ‘You know, this crowd is amazing and fun and sometimes it's a little weird when we go to colleges, but this was so awesome,‘“ Manoukian said. "That was really something I was like, ‘OK, yeah, I'm going to remember that.’"

Will Anderson, the lead singer and songwriter behind Hotline TNT, has never performed in Athens and said he was excited to come.

“I’m looking forward to hanging out with the locals and seeing what you guys are all about,” he said.


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