StoneStock 2009: Firestone High School, 11/06/09

Well…I have been putting off writing about this for long enough.  “Why?” You ask?  Simple: I thought the whole experience was terrible.  And I really did not want to come off sounding like an asshole (and I fear I still will).  But, I guess it’s okay to occasionally be an asshole whilst writing about music.

I won’t be too hard on the high school bands that played.  None of them were great…but, neither are 99% of bands with high school-aged kids in them (including my many, many terrible bands from 9-12 years ago).  But, they did all have talent and with a couple more years under their belts, they’ll be just fine.  And besides, the point of playing in bands in high school is to hone your craft and to simply have fun…not to impress mid-twenties music nerds like myself.

There was an accident on Route 8 South that evening which caused me to arrive a few minutes late.  So, as I walked into the front atrium of Firestone High, I was only able to hear the last 15 seconds of the first band’s set (I have no idea what they were called…but, they sounded like some generic metal that one might hear on 106.9…aka not exactly my cup o’ tea).  As I started searching for a seat, I began to feel a bit strange…almost creepy.  I felt I really had no business being in an auditorium filled with annoying high school kids.  And, yes,  quite a few of them annoyed the piss out of me  (jeez…I sound like a cranky old man).  Especially the ones that felt it necessary to leap from row to row, nearly kicking me in the face each time.

After ten minutes, the lights went back down and the next act was introduced.  Her name was Katie Jenner and it was pretty apparent that she loves Bob Dylan (which is good…everyone should love Bob Dylan).  She had some good songs, but she needs to find her own voice (she literally sounded like Dylan if he were a 15-year-old girl).  One day she will, though…so, I’ll stop being a jerk.

Next up was The Granite Union, a band that was composed entirely of what looked like freshmen.  They weren’t too bad.  They’re definitely all going through their long-haired, “I worship Zeppelin and Floyd” phase (something every teenage boy who plays an instrument must go through), so I was able to get into them a little bit.  They even threw in a cover of The Black Keys’ 2006 hit, “Your Touch.”  I think they’re recording right now and it should be good enough to warrant a listen.

Now, I enjoyed The Granite Union mostly because they reminded me of being 14 and the music I liked to play at the time.  But, the next band, Powerization (I think that’s what they were called…they were not given a proper intro by the emcee) reminded me of the music I like to play/listen to now.  The duo (guitar/vocals and drums) had everything I love: noodly, effects-laden guitars, clever lyrics, lots of energy and stage presence and tight, bass-drum heavy drums (plus, I’ve always been a sucker for 2-man bands…long before the White Stripes and Black Keys hit the scene).  Actually, they were kinda great…I thoroughly enjoyed them, in fact.

That was it for the high school bands.  But, the next two acts were just atrocious, so I’m not gonna spend much time on them at all.

The Kristoffer Carter Show sounded waaaay too much like the Goo Goo Dolls or some other mid-nineties alternapop band for me to even care.  Plus, they gave me a migraine…so, we’ll move on.

As if the Kristoffer Carter Show wasn’t bad enough, the next act, Akron’s Willy Cleary, turned out to be a Christian singer (which, don’t get me wrong, is fine if that’s your thing…I have nothing against Christianity [well, I do…but, we won’t get into that here].  But, Christian rock [in my opinion] is one of the most awful things ever invented).  I suspected this as soon as he and his band took the stage – and these suspicions were soon confirmed when Cleary told the crowd that they could hear him on 95.5 The Fish (which begs the question: does this constitute a violation of church and state on Firestone’s behalf?).  Their set did provide perhaps the most comical event of the night, however: three dozen hyper Firestone students throwing up the devil’s horns for Cleary’s “heaviest” song  (I don’t think they realized that he was a Christian artist).  This seemed to make Cleary a bit uncomfortable…and I got a kick out of that, at least.

But, honestly, none of this mattered.  I wasn’t there to watch high school bands or to have the Good Book shoved down my throat – I was there for two reasons: The Bizarros and Three Hueys and a Houseguest (Tin Huey’s Harvey Gold, Michael Aylward and Stuart Austin with Houseguest’s Dave Rich).  And, at long last, it was that time.

The Bizarros stuck mostly with material from 2003’s Can’t Fight Your Way Up Town From Here. However, they would close their 5-song set with “Laser Boys” from their 1979 Mercury release Bizarros LP.  And, yes, I’ll say it: they look a bit old now and some of the energy from back in the day is gone (frontman Nick Nicholis remained stationary for the majority of the set).  But, they still sound amazing and it was well worth the wait for me to finally see them (even if they didn’t play “Without Reason”).

Three Hueys and a Houseguest would take the stage next.   And it pains me to say it, but without Ralph Carney there, it just wasn’t the same.  I need crazy horns with my Tin Huey, dammit!  Plus, I didn’t recognize any of the songs (I think it was mostly material from 1999’s Disinformation, which I have never owned and, therefore, am not too familiar with).  But, they did bring out Nick Nicholis for their final song of the evening, a cover of the Velvet Underground classic “I’m Waiting for the Man (I’ve always thought Nick Nicholis sounds a lot like Lou Reed, so this was fitting).  Ahh, a song about scoring heroin in front of a bunch of high school kids…this is why I love Tin Huey.

By this point, I had been sitting in the auditorium for nearly four hours and I needed to get out of there.  There was still another band or two left (including Dave Rich’s Paper Tigers, who, in hindsight, I should have stuck around for)…but, I had to get out there.  It was nice to finally see the Bizarros – and I got to do that – so, I felt it was time to go home and drive out the awful sounds left in my head by The Kristoffer Carter Show and Willy Cleary with some Slayer…that made it all better.

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~ by rickbenedum on 11/18/2009.

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