The Downtown After 5 free concert series returns
Fridays are worthy of celebration in any week. The daily grind gives way to the wide-open window of the weekend and, in warm-weather months, downtown Asheville’s streets take on a festive atmosphere of buskers, shoppers and diners claiming patio seating. So Downtown After 5 — held the third Friday of each month, May-September — capitalizes on what’s already a party-in-the-making. “It’s a perfect event that’s really representational of Asheville and the music community that’s thriving here,” says Caitlin Krisko, lead singer of local soulful rock band The Broadcast. “There’s no better event downtown.”
The free concert series returns this week at its established location on Lexington Avenue, near the Interstate 240 overpass. It’s known for bringing well-known national acts as well as popular local bands to the outdoor stage, and this summer’s lineup doesn’t disappoint. The Broadcast kicks off the DA5 season opener, which will be headlined by soul outfit St. Paul & The Broken Bones.
That Alabama-based band, which mixes church choir spirit with rock swagger “has been getting a lot of national exposure lately with recent appearances on ‘The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson’ and ‘CBS This Morning,’ as well as on NPR and in Rolling Stone,” says Meghan Rogers, spokesperson for the Asheville Downtown Association. Xpress spoke to the band before its January appearance at The Grey Eagle: “We have shows to have this moment that you can’t capture on a cellphone and you can’t write about,” said frontman Paul Janeway. “It’s the moment where you have this connectivity, and everyone in the room can feel it.” According to Krisko, The Broadcast is excited to provide support for the Broken Bones, especially as the two groups have met on the road.
Getting one of the sought-after slots at DA5 means a lot for The Broadcast, a band that has been touring regionally and across the U.S. for a few years now. Even though Krisko, percussionist Tyler Housholder and drummer Michael W. Davis formed the band in New York City in 2009, they’ve been in Asheville for almost four years. With guitarist Aaron Austin, they consider North Carolina home. They’re all still riding high off a successful album release party at The Grey Eagle last fall, a concert that galvanized The Broadcast’s local fan base and pushed the band to step up its touring schedule, which has been frenetic all winter and spring. Since releasing Dodge the Arrow in September, they’ve sold nearly 5,000 copies and have noticed a groundswell of support.
“When we play shows now, it’s really surreal to see people singing along with every song,” says Krisko. “It’ll be a group of college frat boys next to an older married couple next to a 16-year old girl, and they’re all singing it. I feel that the goal of music is to connect people in a community — it’s the common bond. And to see that [bond] become physical and to see it come to life has been such a dream come true.”
She continues, “With every show we do, our No. 1 goal always and forever is going to be fans and connecting [with them]. Fans are what give bands careers. Record labels and publicists and booking agents don’t make bands’ careers — fans do.”
Krisko notes that playing at DA5 is one of the best ways for The Broadcast to excite its audience, while also appealing to new ears. The concert series “for us is just about, really, bringing our music to as many new listeners as possible. It’s also going to be really cool for our fans, who used to come see us at the Boiler Room 3 1/2 years ago.”
Not only does Downtown After 5 jump-start The Broadcast’s summer plans, it welcomes in the local festival season while underscoring much of what’s great about the downtown Asheville community. Local food and drink vendors line the concert space. Rogers points out a new addition to DA5: a partnership with West Carolina Water Treatment to offer free filtered and chilled water to festivalgoers. “This partnership is in line with our efforts to reduce our environmental impact,” she says.
Another positive: Since wristbands are required to purchase alcohol, proceeds from $2 wristband sales benefit local nonprofits, including Homeward Bound, LEAF Community Arts, United Way 211, Asheville City Schools Foundation and MANNA FoodBank.
Downtown After 5
Lexington Avenue at the 240 overpass
Friday, May 16, at 5:30 p.m., free
Third Fridays of the month, May-Sept.