TIM WALLS has a knack for finding the gems of the underground.
In his many years booking as Coastal Rock Productions, Walls has introduced Savannahians to acts on the brink—think From First To Last (Skrillex’s pre-EDM superstardom band), Underoath, Showbread, Jucifer, and many more. In addition to throwing monthly, often all-ages, shows, Walls curated A.U.R.A. (All Underground Rock All Day) Fest, a day-long showcase of local and touring hardcore, metal, indie, and more.
The fest was all the rage back in the early 2000s, and after a long hiatus, Walls revived the event in 2015. He took 2016 off to study the Savannah scene and poured his energy in creating an unforgettable event with entertainment, food, drinks, food, and activities for all.
“We’ve been working and planning since June,” Walls reveals. “So we had a long time to prepare for it. Honestly, I wanted to do something totally different this year, and we have.”
Last A.U.R.A. Fest threw down at Bigshow’s Burgers and Bar in Statesboro. This year, it’s moved back to Savannah to The Garden at Ships of The Sea Maritime Museum.
The gorgeous outdoor venue, used regularly for Savannah Stopover Music Festival, Savannah Music Festival, and other events, may seem like an unusual stage for an edgy rock festival—and that’s the fun of it.
“Seeing how nice it looks from when they hosted Stopover and the Savannah Music Festival, it’s just beautiful,” Walls admires. “Reaching out to them, I wasn’t sure if they’d be receptive to the idea—this is more edgier rock music compared to Savannah Music Festival—but they were very receptive and hospitable. It blew me away that they were so supportive.”
While taking a festival break, Walls noticed that Savannah is hungry for bigger acts and national touring bands. With a venue like Ships of the Sea, he can host bands of that caliber, shine the spotlight on up-and-coming locals and, even if just for a day, welcome folks who aren’t old enough to get into clubs.
“For the all-ages crowd, we really don’t have a spot here,” he says. “We’re missing a spot for the younger kids, and I’ve tried to rent out different venues that are really great, but they’re not established as music venues. We need something to fill that spot, and we’ll get it sooner or later.”
Working with several agencies, Walls has crafted a lineup for the books, featuring Unearth, Zao., Oh, Sleeper, He Is Legend, I Set My Friends On Fire, and more.
“I wanted to have variety,” Walls says. “I’ve been very influenced by Warped Tour—I want something to have that vibe of some indie rock, metal, rock, hardcore, and mix it up so there’s some variety in the festival. That was a big thing.”
In addition to live music, A.U.R.A. Fest boasts a litany of activities for all. Sore from the pit? Massage therapy students from Virginia College will be on-hand with massage chairs to ease your stresses; treat yourself for free (donations encouraged).
Get your game on Graveface Records and Curiosities’ collection of arcade games, which will all be on-site. Plus, your favorite affordable beer, PBR, will be hosting a game of “Pabst-etball” for 21-and-up attendees (try to sink your PBR can in the basket for a prize).
“This is what I’ve always wanted to do since I was a kid,” says Walls. “I didn’t have the venue. I’ve really tried to utilize this entire area like a big playground. I’m really influenced by bigger festivals like Bonnaroo and Coachella—those things are massive—but this is, on a smaller scale, what I see from those festivals that have the whole experience.”