- Friday, May 15, 2009, 9 p.m.
- The Steamboat Grand, 2300 Mount Werner Circle, Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Springs Every chance she's gotten for the past couple of weeks, Ellana Williams has been playing her guitar.
Before she goes to school, when she gets home, when she's watching TV, and when she's practicing with her recently formed rock band, After Shock, Williams has her guitar in hand, working out lines from the Guns N' Roses and Avenged Sevenfold songs After Shock will perform at the sixth annual Teen Battle of the Bands.
Williams' nerves are understandable: Guns N' Roses guitar lines aren't known for their simplicity; and the Battle, which will be After Shock's first public performance, draws about 400 people each year. Doors open at 9 p.m. today at the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel.
"I went to it last year, and it's really cool," Williams said. "A lot of people go, and the bands are really good. And there's not a lot of stuff you can do here for teenage musicians, so it's a really good opportunity."
'The audience is No. 1'
Battle of the Bands started after city of Steamboat Springs teen services coordinator director Brooke Lightner saw a need for a place for teenage bands to play.
"We knew that there were teenagers out there practicing their music, but not too many opportunities to showcase their talent," Lightner said. The first battle drew mostly punk and hard rock bands, she said; over time, the set list has grown to include a wide array of musical styles, including, punk, ska, hardcore, reggae, hip-hop and acoustic rock.
The competition is open to any band from Routt County and surrounding areas; band members must be 13 to 19 years old, and must register with Steamboat Springs Teen Programs a week before the contest. The event is open to all ages but is geared toward teens, and is an alcohol- and drug-free night, Lightner said.
Jesse Calhoon, a local drummer who will manage the Battle of the Bands stage for the second time this year, is in charge of coordinating equipment needs and stage set-up with the seven bands registered. For many acts, a three-song set at the Battle is the group's first public performance. To have 400 people hear that set is a weighty learning experience, Calhoon said.
"I think they get comfortable playing in front of people, that's huge, and they get reaction of what their music sounds like, and that's huge. They learn from their mistakes and what sounds good and what sounds bad," he said, pointing out the importance of audience interaction. "The audience is No. 1 when it comes to a band playing on stage, and if you impress the audience, you're going to be a great band."
Competing to win
Five music industry judges rate each act on originality, appearance, musicianship, sound and lyrics, and assign the group an overall score. The Battle champion is decided by the highest combined point tally.
A prize package for the winning act includes a trophy designed by the industrial arts class at Steamboat Springs High School, a band profile in the Steamboat Today, airtime and an interview on KFMU 104.1 FM, and a weeknight gig at Mahogany Ridge Brewery and Grill.
Anthony "Kinne" Kinnecom is one of several musicians who look to the competition as a chance to step up his band's musicianship and performance. Reachthesky, a post-hardcore group that takes its cues from bands such as Attack Attack!, formed a few months ago. Since then, Kinnecom and longtime friend and drummer Shane Burdette have used Reachthesky as a way to sharpen their songwriting skills.
"Basically since the day we met we've been trying to get bands together and get our songs going," Kinnecom said. The band is looking forward to the crowd reaction to its set, Kinnecom said.
"It's just kind of a way for us to get our music out there. We're trying to take this as seriously as we can because we're all dedicated musicians," he said.
This year's Teen Battle of the Bands participants:
¤ The Westons
Band members: Graham Geppert, bass; River Loughran, guitar and lead vocals; Noah Pfaff, lead guitar and backup vocals; Connor Haggerty, drums; Weston Kim, other
Styles of music: Ska, reggae, rock and hip-hop
Time playing together: Eight months
Listed musical influences: Sublime, Jimi Hendrix, NOFX, Slightly Stoopid, Chuck Berry and about 50 others
Band members: Anthony "Kinne" Kinnecom, vocals; Andrew Kinnecom, bass; Shane Burdette, drums; Johnny Strahan, guitar
Styles of music: Post-hardcore, ambient and electro
Time playing together: One year
Listed musical influences: Attack Attack!, We Came As Romans, Emarosa, The Acacia Strain and A Skylit Drive
¤ Fistful of Flamingos
Band members: Nicolai Buccino, guitar and lead vocals; Jack Massey, guitar; Graham Geppert, bass; Andre Buccino, drums
Styles of music: Acoustic, alternative and reggae
Time playing together: One month
Listed musical influences: Slightly Stoopid, Jack Johnson, Pepper and Sublime
¤ After Shock
Band members: Ellana Williams, guitar and vocals; Maddie Traverse, guitar and vocals; Dalton Perry, bass and vocals; David Kelley, drums
Styles of music: Rock
Time playing together: One month
Listed musical influences: Guns N' Roses, Led Zeppelin and Avenged Sevenfold
¤ Silence the Followers
Band members: Chase Stuart, guitar; Dustin Camp, bass; Josiah Trujillo, vocals; Sean Schneegas, drums
Styles of music: Heavy metal, hardcore
Time playing together: Five months
Listed musical influences: Avenged Sevenfold, As I Lay Dying, Atreyu, Parkway Drive and Belie My Burial
¤ Knock on Wood
Band members: Connor Birch, lead guitar; Max Shoffner, bass and vocals; Jake Supple, guitar and vocals; River Loughran, drums
Styles of music: Reggae, ska and rock
Time playing together: A little less than a year
Listed musical influences: "Sublime to Clapton and everything in between"
¤ Basically Sound
Band members: Guerin Lewis, lead guitar and vocals; Daniel Melvin, drums and back-up vocals
Styles of music: Punk, alternative and rock
Time playing together: One year, five months
Listed musical influences: The White Stripes