Couchella is the annual music festival sponsored by the Georgia Tech Musician’s Network (GTMN). This year’s event on Friday, Sept. 22 had a western vibe, complete with posters of Smokey the Bear beckoning fans to “Kumda Couchella!” Every year, the GTMN puts together an amazing lineup of performers, with some of the acts being from Tech and others being local bands. The lineup this year included bands and artists from various genres, including alternative rock and melodic punk.
Every band had something unique about them, whether it was their attire or their origin story. One band, Ugly Joy, had both wonderful attire and an interesting backstory. While dressed in his signature clown makeup and red suit jacket, lead singer Ammad Bakari described the beginnings of his band.
“Ugly Joy started as a bedroom project for me, and then I made a music video, and someone from New Jersey saw it and said ‘I need you to open for my band.’ I said, ‘It’s not a real band’, and they said, ‘Make it a real band,’ so I made it a real band,” Bakari said. For those who were wondering, when asked about the reason behind the clown makeup, Bakari said, “I can’t stop myself.”
Ugly Joy played a lively set featuring the band’s favorite songs, “Girl From the Loony Bin” and “Pharmasong,” and the crowd moshed along to every song. Ugly Joy can be found on Instagram under the handle
@uglyjoy_band and on Spotify under “Ugly Joy!”
Another band, Fishing, also had interesting choices of attire. Each band member had their own individual fish-themed hat, and, when asked about the hats, lead singer Zack Matthews, third-year ME, sprinted across Tech Green to find his fish hat, which was fabulously decorated with a red plastic fish. When asked about the genre of the band, the band responded, “we’re weird.”
The band elaborated on this statement, saying that some members of GTMN describe their music as experimental classic rock, while they believe a better label would be heavier jam band music. Their set list fully encapsulated these descriptors with songs like “Connor’s Song,” a heavy rock piece, and “The Song Which Has No Name Yet,” a lighter rock piece. As the band walked on stage to start their set, members of the crowd screamed, “I love fishing!” to which the band gave a hearty reply, “Yeah! Fishing!” Fishing can be found on Instagram under the handle @fishing2_atl.
In addition to Tech bands Fishing and Ugly Joy, there were some other local bands that played at Couchella, including Strumbrush. Strumbrush got their beginnings as high school friends who stayed in touch throughout college. One of the band members, Jack Pace, initially attended Tech and transferred to another school. Now, coming back to Couchella to play at Tech, the band has evolved from individual recording projects into a live band that writes together.
Strumbrush described themselves as an alternative rock band with “a lot of twists and turns.” The band members said that they were inspired by many other bands, including Rush, Tedeschi Trucks Band and The Pixies. When asked about their favorite songs to play together, each band member had a different response. Their favorite songs included many unreleased tracks like “Mold,” “Pay Your Angels” and “Lighteaters.” The band also mentioned another song titled “Hot Wheels” being their favorite because they “go very vroom
during ‘Hot Wheels.’”
Strumbrush played their set later in the evening, and the atmosphere was truly electric, with a giant mosh pit forming for every song. The band can be found on Instagram and Spotify under the name Strumbrush.
Everyone who played or attended Couchella truly loves music, and the atmosphere of the event encapsulated these feelings. Attendees crowded around the merchandise tent, picking out GTMN stickers and snagging free snacks, all while discussing their excitement about the event. No matter the genre of music, all of the attendees were ready to mosh at a moment’s notice, and every band received a resounding round of applause from the audience after their set.
All of the band members were genuinely excited to share their music, and they each had something unique to offer.
Each band enjoyed their time on stage, all proud to be a part of Couchella. In addition to the performing bands, the GTMN organizers were incredibly excited about the event, and they worked tirelessly to put on a fantastic show.
GTMN will be hosting another event in the spring called “1000 Couches,” which will have similar musical acts to Couchella. If you did not get a chance to attend this year, make sure to “Kumda Couchella!” next year!