Tuesday, November 3, 2009

School of Rock is in session this Saturday at Pearl Street

Lucas Kendall, 16, of Amherst quartet Who Shot Hollywood finds it irritating when people call his band’s output “kids’ music.” The Valley Advocate inadvertently slighted them as “the Valley’s local Jonas Brothers.” “We’re a kids’ band, but our music is not just for kids,” he said. When one considers that Pete Townshend was still a teen when the Who released their first album, the term “kid” starts to lose its more dismissive connotations.

This Saturday November 7th at 7PM. four local bands comprised of under-20somethings play the Pearl Street Clubroom in Northampton. Some have been together since middle school while others got their act together later in life in high school. Who Shot Hollywood put the bill together with Client #9 from Amherst, Mountain Interval from Greenfield, and Bad Vibes from Easthampton. “I think it’sreally important for [venues] to be a service to such bands – representing the talent and hard work from their own area,” said Alexa Clark, 19, of Mountain Interval. “It’s great that the line-up for the show is all young and local, and it’s a big deal for me to be able to play at a venue like Pearl Street.”

Who Shot Hollywood is brothers Lucas on vocals/ bass and Dana Kendall, 14, on drums; Eamon Wick, 15, on keyboard; and Lucas Graham, 14, on guitar. Lucas K. met Eamon in fifth grade and formed what he deemed a “juvenile six-piece punk rock band” called Bullseye. “Now, we’re kind of stuck with Who Shot Hollywood, though none of us really like the name.” Though still in their cavity-prone years, the band has audibly matured, expressing new musical influences as soon as they discover them. “As we went through puberty, so did our band,” said Lucas K. The group appears to be taking off and have opened for Mission of Burma, The Fray, and most recently Man Man at Pearl Street. Man Man handpicked them for their gig in D.C. at the 930 Club. The Kendall's dad, Greg aka Skeggy was a fixture of the Boston music scene of the 80s and 90s in bands like Lifeboat and The Brothers Kendall who contributed music to many of auteur Hal Hartley's independent films.

Client #9 is David Roud, 17, on guitar; Owen Talbot, 16, on bass; and Jeremy Levit, 16, on drums. David has been playing music with Jeremy since the fourth grade when started to learn guitar. In middle school, they hooked up with Owen, and not just because one of his relatives had a lot of musical equipment for the boys to use. They’ve developed an orchestral brand of post-rock music comparable to Explosions in the Sky, Mogwai, and My Bloody Valentine. But the influence is incidental. “It started off as an accident,” David said. “We had mics and we started singing because we were so young, but we thought it sounded stupid.” One person’s stupid is another’s “seminal post-punk era influence.” As for their age David is nonplussed. “Hopefully our age will be a draw, but I always have a great time just being there, hearing the bands get tighter and improve their sound.”

The first time Client #9 played out was the 2008 Amherst Regional High School Battle of the Bands, which they handily clinched. Buoyed by their win, they’ve since opened for several acts at the Iron Horse including another band of local origins, Apollo Sunshine. Client #9, primarily an instrumental combo, is now incorporating vocals which David said all their parents are really excited about. “It’s been amazing to watch and feel it grow,” he said. “There’s always something going on that leaves me hopeful.”

Mountain Interval is Alexa on vocals and saxophone; John Zarcone, 18, on bass; Jake Grant, 19, on guitar; Sam Witty, 18, on keyboard; Cody Ball, 17, on guitar; and Nick Duska, 18, on drums. Their name is a reference to a Robert Frost collection that the band found evoked their origins. “The Pioneer Valley is really important to me, because it is such a warm and peaceful place with all the right values, and I feel like our music reflects that,” said Alexa. Mountain Interval grew from Sam, Cody, and John jamming together at the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts (PVPA) school, an institution that has launched many notable careers. With the aim of expanding their sound they joined forces with the current members just last spring. John humbly said, “Alexa joined to sing so that we could focus on our instruments, and she is way better than any of us.” Their music is catchy and danceable, loaded with unpredictable synth, sax, and guitar effects under Alexa’s vocals that evoke a depth beyond her years.

Bad Vibes is Will Cole (son of Lloyd Cole...whose album Bad Vibes is the band's namesake), 17, on vocals; Justin Hahn, 19, on guitar; Phil Haggerty, 18, on guitar; Dan Gagnon, 18, on bass; and Will Hastie, 18, on drums. They got together in early 2009, inspired by a rock ensemble class they took at PVPA and since then, Will H. said, it’s been nonstop. This is the last chance to see the garage rock of Bad Vibes for thr foreseeable future. Phil Haggerty is leaving for Palestine soon. And so inevitably, as these bands grow older, other members will drift away to college or other ports of call. But some may they’ve found their calling early in life and stick it out. These are after all the early days of a new music business of sorts, still trying to figure itself out… much as these young bands are. -Melissa Breor

The show's at 7PM this Saturday at Pearl Street.

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