Good news continues to pile up for local live music fans. Savannah native Tim Walls and his AURA Fest booking outfit is expanding their reach with a slate of monthly shows leading up to the full-blown, all-day 2022 AURA Fest. This update comes a week after we learned of District Live, a new music venue opening soon in the Plant Riverside development, with exclusive booking by national powerhouse Live Nation. The two won’t be competing, as AURA Fest aims at a decidedly less commercial, independent music style. Details on the all-day AURA Fest are still in the works, but a big day is promised.
“I have this desire to crush it, on every level, at the next festival,” Walls said. A low-key conversationalist, it was surprising to hear it put this way.
The addition of monthly shows and other ambitions are the result of a life-long dedication to the Savannah music scene. In the early 2000s, the teenage Walls began booking hardcore punk and metal shows at Velvet Elvis and Teasers. He was part of the scene himself, playing in the band Genital Mousetrap Circus, so it really was about the music. After a few years, Walls moved on as the responsibilities of life emerged. He attended college in Atlanta and returned to more family obligations back in Savannah, but always kept his eye on the scene.
About five years ago, when he felt the time was right, he started booking shows again. Over the ensuing years, it has been harder to find venues, for a variety of reasons.
“In the time I’ve been doing this again, Graveface Records stopped having in-store shows, the Hang Fire and Doll House are gone, then The Jinx closed,” Walls said. “No one is hosting house shows.”
The early signs of these circumstances were part of the reason he went the festival route. With fewer venues, booking regular shows became less preferable to an all-underground rock all-day, or AURA, event. The result was the hardcore and metal AURA Fest, which were held at Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum from 2017-2019 with the expected festival mandates of food trucks, vendors and activities.
Walls next decided to change things up and put together Underground Weekend in February 2020 at The Jinx. That event was headlined by two particularly interesting heavy bands, Miami’s Torche and Jacksonville’s Inter Arma. It was a success, and a sequel heavier on the sludge, stoner and doom genres is in the works.
Shows in bars won’t always be the case in order to maintain a level of all-ages and 18-and-over shows. As someone who started in the scene as a teenager, Walls understands the importance of keeping kids involved in what is now a solid part of youth culture.
“It’s important to me to always have all-ages shows,” Walls said. “If we don’t give kids a place to see bands and play in bands, there’s no future.”
Moving forward, Walls and AURA Fest are employing a model similar to Savannah Jazz. Reasonably-priced patron-level sponsorships are available to locals who want to support the scene, business sponsors have been secured, monthly concerts are planned, and a yearly big event brings it all home. In this case, the planned 2022 AURA Fest and Underground Weekend II double the payoff.
Partnerships with venues El Rocko and Sentient Bean have allowed Walls to book five upcoming shows. The series starts off with stoner-doom musical steamroller Weedeater, evil one-man-band Joe Buck Yourself, gritty alt-country singer-songwriter Adam Faucett, and local hellions Sins of Godless Men, Friday, Aug. 6. Other upcoming shows include Depressor and SHEHEHE.