Monday, March 4, 2013

PA Rocks! Band Showcase

On January 19, 2013, I attended a concert featuring some of the hottest rock bands in Central Pennsylvania. Hosted by Fat Daddy’s Nightclub in York, PA, the event brought in an enthusiastic crowd that took advantage of the $5.00 cover charge and half-price drinks the venue offered. Fans were then treated to an evening of original music in an assortment of styles, including rock, pop, heavy metal, and R&B, in an intimate and relaxed setting.

I arrived just before 9:00 P.M. and chatted with others at the bar about which bands we were there to see. The confirmed lineup consisted of She Said Fire, Darry Miller & The Veil, Bullet Method, MaddaM Ink, and Small Town Titans. It was my first time hearing most of them perform live, but I researched their music beforehand and recognized many faces from their band profiles on Facebook and Twitter. I was recognized myself, due to my online presence, by the lead singer of MaddaM Ink, who came over to introduce himself before the show. I was already friendly with several members of Bullet Method from attending shows by their other bands, Ten Throne, Worlds End, and Treplow. However, this would be the first time that I’d see them perform together in the new band. Eric McNeil, drummer and founder of Bullet Method, was the main organizer of this multiple-headliner event.

The entertainment began with She Said Fire (formerly The August Infinity), a New York-based rock band who took command of the stage from the start. With a theatrical presentation and melodic vocals, lead singer Joshua Hawksley captivated the audience while the upbeat music highlighted the talent the four musicians possessed. Their unique brand of pop/rock seemed infused with elements from different genres and made listeners want to dance and sing along. As the only female musician in the show’s lineup, drummer Christina Vitucci had no problem demonstrating her ability to drive the beat. Peter Strzelecki showed impressive finger work on guitar and Chris Moss kept the base line thumping. My view was partially obstructed by the crowd in front of me and I wasn’t very familiar with the songs at the time, but they are definitely a band I would go see again.

~ She Said Fire

Darry Miller & The Veil was a band that I had been eager to see for months. I love their blend of rhythm and blues, rock, and pop, and had been introduced to their music through mutual friends. I eased my way up to the front of the stage to get a good view while they set up their equipment. Hearing Darry’s rich, soulful voice in a live setting was even better than expected and I was very impressed by the skill at which each member of the band played. Derek Jenkins' keyboard gave the songs a silky tonal quality that complimented the guitar, bass, and drums by Dylan Madar, Josh Kirwin, and Daniel Jones, respectively. I enjoy watching musicians at their craft and I tend to study the fingerings, although I’m not proficient enough at those particular instruments to recognize every note or chord being played. However, natural talent is easy to spot and it’s hard to believe that this band is not more widely known. They have a professional sound that is reminiscent of soul bands in the 1960’s and a magnetic stage presence. I enjoyed every moment of the performance and only wished the set could have been longer.

~ Darry Miller

For anyone who loves a group that isn’t afraid to tackle an eclectic list of music genres on one album, Bullet Method is your band. Written by multi-instrumentalist, Eric McNeil, their songs range from hard rock to rap to alternative to metal, and everything in between, blended with raw energy and powerful vocals. Singer David Zienkiewicz adapted to each style change effortlessly, whether he was crooning a rock ballad or getting the audience pumped up during an upbeat rap tune. Through Eric Garcia's pulsating bass rhythms, McNeil's hard-hitting percussion, and electric guitar solos by Dave Heisey and Josh Wolpert, this group of talented musicians never fail to amaze me. I’ve supported them as individuals in their former bands and it was evident during the set that this new venture emphasized the diversity in musical backgrounds and influences. They meshed well as a group and enjoyed themselves, whether performing or interacting with fans. I look forward to seeing what the future of this band will produce.

~ Bullet Method

MaddaM Ink took the stage next and charmed the crowd with their catchy lyrics, unique sound, and entertaining personalities. Adam Burke's smooth voice transitioned from assertive to soulful as he took us on a journey of self-expression through words, while Stephen “Party Zone” Benecke was in rockstar mode on bass. An edgy mix of alternative, hard rock, and pop rhythms coupled with fast-paced drum cadences by Kyle Young and aggressive guitar riffs by Kevin Rausch, kept the audience on its feet and awaiting the next song. "Coletrane" was already a favorite of mine and I was happy to hear it that night, along with other recognizable melodies. The talent and experience that this band displayed inspired me to check out more of their music and make plans to attend upcoming shows.

~ Maddam Ink

Closing out the evening was Small Town Titans, a hard rock band that lived up to its name. Hailing from Harrisburg, PA, these four musicians created a sound that resonated throughout the bar and kept the excitement level high despite the late hour. Charismatic lead singer, Phillip Freeman, used his deep raspy voice to carry the notes across a backdrop of toe-tapping harmonies. Jonny Ross showed off his stick-wielding skills on drums while Ben Guiles on guitar and Eddie Roberts on bass weren’t afraid to “get down” to the music as they rocked on stage. This is a band that has as much fun performing as the audience does watching them. Their popular track, "Party In Hell," was a jaunty, light-hearted tune that finished off an entertaining set list and left everyone in good spirits. Another band I’d be happy to see again in an extended live show.

~ Small Town Titans

This showcase was a great avenue for music lovers to check out unfamiliar bands without having to attend a full-length concert for each group. The fact that the bands stayed to watch and cheer on their fellow musicians after their own sets were finished, was evidence of the camaraderie and unity that exists between them. Personally keeping the fans updated through social media and demonstrating their appreciation at the shows, makes it a pleasure for us to support local independent artists. A group photo (top) of the five bands on stage was the culmination of an enjoyable concert experience that I hope will become an annual tradition.

For more information on the bands that performed in the PA Rocks! showcase, please click on these links:

She Said Fire - Facebook | Twitter | ReverbNation
Darry Miller & The Veil - Facebook | Twitter | ReverbNation
Bullet Method - Facebook | Twitter | ReverbNation
MaddaM Ink - Facebook | Twitter | ReverbNation
Small Town Titans - Facebook | Twitter | ReverbNation

You can see more photos from the show HERE

And watch my video of Darry Miller & The Veil below:

NRM 3/3/13

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