Bands prepare for battle

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High school students from Steamboat Springs and Craig will be rockin' the Steamboat Grand Ballroom tonight during the High School Battle of the Bands. Local groupies can look forward to a strong punk rock and heavy metal presence, according to musical influences cited by members of the seven competing bands.

Kris Gayer, drummer for Genghis Khan, one of the competing Steamboat Springs bands, summed up the logic behind a strong punk presence among his peers: "Mostly, if you're a teenager and have a band, I don't really know what else you'd wanna play."

What: High School Battle of the Bands When: 9 to midnight tonight Where: Steamboat Grand Resort Ballroom Tickets: $3 at the door

"It could be a hard show -- a good way to vent some teen angst, perhaps," said Matthew Craig, industrial arts teacher at Steamboat Springs High School and emcee for tonight's event. "It will be cool to see them pouring it out on stage."

Each band is scheduled to play a three-song set, complete with rock-star lighting on stage. A panel of judges composed of local music aficionados will rank the bands based on their originality, appearance, musicianship, sound and lyrics. Bands are vying for a grand prize that includes a one-night gig at Mahogany Ridge and airtime for the band's songs on radio stations KFMU and KIDN.

The Battle of the Bands is part of the city teen program's mission to provide safe, affordable alcohol- and drug-free recreational events for teenagers. It is a sober event that everyone in the community is encouraged to attend, as long as no alcohol is consumed ahead of time, teen program coordinator Brooke Lachman said. Tickets are $3 at the door, and sodas and snacks will be available for purchase inside the concert. The first band kicks off at 9 p.m., and the show will end at midnight.

The event is years in the making, Lachman said. But once the Battle of the Bands started to come together, assisted by a grant from a Colorado State Alcohol and Drug Prevention grant, volunteers started "literally coming out of the woodwork," she said.

"I was just astounded by the support from the community for this event," Lachman said. Event sponsors include the Steamboat Springs Teen Program, KIDN/KFMU, Impact Hospitality Services, The Local and Steamboat Pilot & Today.

Headlining the evening are seven hard-working bands ready to put on a high school extravaganza.

In the Gutter, an all-girl "alternative/punk -- more alternative" band from Craig, has been practicing together for five months, said Jenna Stiefel, the band's drummer and backup singer.

Genghis Khan, a punk band of four seniors from Steamboat, is planning to play one cover and two songs "created as a group effort," drummer Gayer said. He called the band's music "loud, fast and rock 'n' roll."

Keeping with the punk theme, Random Acts of Kindness described itself as an "underground Christian metal and punk" band when it signed up to compete in the Battle of the Bands.

Straying from punk, but sticking to the "heavy stuff," Stonewall is a five-member band from Craig that has been together for three years.

One as-yet-unnamed group from Steamboat is keeping a low profile before the show, citing only their influences as Zakk Wylde, In Flames and Aesthetic. A second Steamboat Springs band that remains elusive is Abstract Expression, although sources close to the band said the group has a penchant for AC/DC, Led Zepplin and Metallica

And jumping in at the last minute is Always, a new group from Steamboat that is "practicing like crazy," drummer Nate Lotz said.

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