The Millenium Music Conference was an event that featured over 200 different bands on 30 different stages in a time span of three days. In other words, this was an event that was not to be missed. Since I have to pay the rent, I couldn’t take three days off to experience MMC 2000 as a whole, which is what I would have liked to have done. But, I did manage to make one of the most talked about shows, which was held at Gullifty’s Underground in Camp Hill Pennsylvania.
This was my first time visiting this establishment and I must say, I was rather impressed. The staff was friendly, everyone from the guy at the door to the waitresses. No attitudes, they might have been working, but, they were there to have a good time just like everyone else. As I get more involved in the Pennsylvania music scene, I plan on making Gullifty’s Underground one of my more frequent hang outs (even though it takes me about an hour and a half to get there). I applaud the staff for a job well done.
The show got off to an explosive start with Halestorm, who just happen to be the most talked about band in the Pennsylvania scene. As they hit the stage, they proved to everyone in attendance that, YES, they do live up to all the hype and, tonight, this was Halestorm at their best. Sixteen year old vocalist/keyboardist Elizabeth Hale pushed her voice to the extreme. She gave each song everything she had…and then some. Bassist Roger Hale was in fine form, as always. This man is a pleasure to watch, he always has a smile on his face and it’s so obvious to see that he’s having a good time when he’s in front of an audience. Twelve year old Arejay Hale has, I’m sure, caused many a jaw to hit the ground. He’s a mini Lars Ulrich and Dave Lombardo all rolled into one. Not only does he have a thunderous drum solo, he also has a rotating drum kit, which is a sight to behold. As the band played one of their most popular tunes, “Time Man,” Arejay goes around and around and upside down without missing a beat. Arejay is quickly becoming legendary in the Pennsylvania scene and the roar of approval from the audience only confirmed that more. Last, but not least, there’s sixteen year old guitarist (and newest member) Leo Nessinger, who gives the band a more complete sound (their debut CD, “Don’t Mess With The Time Man,” was recorded without a guitarist and thus lacked a “full” sound). He shoots fire from his guitar, plays with his teeth while it smokes. Plain and simple, his playing is absolutely amazing. He ranks up there with the likes of Ace Frehley and Slash.
Halestorm played less than 45 minutes, but, when it was all said and done, it took the audience a few minutes to realize what they had just witnessed. No, it wasn’t a dream, this was the real deal. In less than 45 minutes, Halestorm proved why they’re the most talked about band in Pennsylvania. They came, they saw, they conquered…end of story.
Next up was D’Arey October. I’ve heard a few good things about this band, but, before their set even ended, I was greatly disappointed. They hit the stage and started things off with some childish, teenage devil worship comments…something about “sign of the beast forever.” I figured their kiddie wicked attitude would be the last of the unprofessional behavior. But, I was wrong. Between songs, the immature behavior continued with various remarks that were just plain stupid, even to the point where vocalist D’Arey said that guys like it when she says “fuck,” which she did way too often this evening. Her performance was an embarassment, plain and simple. As for the music, well, it was turned up to the point where everything was distorted and you couldn’t understand a single word that D’Arey said, with the exception, of course, of the immature babble they spit out between songs. They made sure you heard that plain as day. The band also includes bassist Steve Penta and drummer Jared Piccone (who seemed to be the better behaved of the three). They have a CD out titled “Guide To Teenage Glamour,” which I might have reviewed had I felt the urge to approach the band and request a copy. But, after being witness to the so called performance they put on, in no way did I wanna be associated with them. D’Arey October is a band that needs to grow up, both personally and musically. If they continue on with the kind of attitude they had this evening, their future will consist of having to ask people, “Would you like fries with that?” In all fairness, my opinions could change. But, as of right now, they are what they are. I’m just telling it like it is.
Hitting the stage next was The 3rd Skill. Being as this was my first time seeing the band and considering the fact that I knew nothing of their original music, I can’t really comment on what they played. But, as for HOW they played it, well, that’s another story. As I sat watching The 3rd Skill, I noticed that the band had everything they needed to succeed. They were loud, but, not to the point where everything was distorted. Even though I didn’t know any of the songs, I could make out 95% of what vocalist Eric Troop was saying, which made his energetic performance all the more enjoyable. In between songs (and during their performance) the band members, which also include Scott Angstadt (bass), Justin Dautrich (drums) & Todd Schwambach (lead guitar), showed what a true band should be, as they played with sincerity, seriousness and they had fun too, talking to the crowd. In other words, they had a personality, one which carried over to the audience and was gladly accepted by both long time fans and people, such as myself, who were seeing the band for the very first time. They also added a blistering version of The Rolling Stones “Sympathy For The Devil” to their explosive set of originals. Mick Jagger would have been proud! I managed to hook up with the band after their set and I got a copy of their second CD, “Confessional.” Getting a copy of this release was one of the highlights of the evening, which I would later find out when I got home and gave it a listen. It’s a good, solid, alterna-rock album that’s filled with the same energy and passion as their live show. While it’s hard to pick a personal favorite (because this is such a good album), the highlight here is the epic title track, “Confessional.” Six seconds shy of eighteen minutes, this is probably one of the best songs to ever come from a Pennsylvania band…and one that plays original music! An excellent way to end an excellent album. After what I saw live and what I heard on disc, it’s clear that this band is gonna make a name for themselves in the music industry. Hopefully, some of you record labels out there are paying attention. If not, catch The 3rd Skill live and pick up a copy of “Confessional” and just might have a new band on your roster.
As much as I would have liked to see the other bands perform, I had to leave after The 3rd Skill because my head was spinning and it wasn’t all because of the music. I was down with a bad case of the flu and my body told me it was time to go. My apologies to The Jellybricks, Love In Ruins and Cloud Party for not being able to check out your live show. I will get more information on these bands for a future column and, who knows, by then, I might even get a chance to catch them live.
I did spend some time talking to Love In Ruins before my evening ended and they gave me a copy of their their three song CD titled “Wasted” to review. With only three songs to further my knowledge, I’d have to say that vocalist Ruschelle Evette sounds like a combination of Vicki Tama and Chicago’s Shelivade. Heavy rock that seems to be touched by a blues influence. There’s more to this band than I actually know. As I seek out more information, you can check ’em out by way of their official web page. If you love good music, you’ll click on the link below.
Before my evening ended, a reunion also took place. In attendance was Spellbound drummer Mike Caldwell, whom I had known through the mail back in 1992 when I got a copy of a demo that, to the best of my knowledge, was never released to the public. This evening was to be my first time meeting him face to face, which was a real pleasure. He gave me a copy of Spellbound’s self produced, self titled CD, which was recorded on a small 4 track tape deck where the band rehearses. This eight song release is filled with melodic hard rock, with both feet planted firmly in the 80’s sound that we all know and love.
Spellbound plans to record a full length CD to be released later this year. Once they do, you’ll be the first to hear about it. Attending one of their shows is now a top priority of mine, as I heard they put on an exceptional show. As soon as that becomes a reality, I’ll give you the scoop on just how good they are live. For now, you can e-mail Mike for more information on the band and to find out how to obtain a copy of their CD…and be sure to mention this article when writing.
Mike Caldwell: SB1997@aol.com
Well, that about does it for this, my debut column. Keep your eyes (and ears) open for more album and show reviews coming direct to you from Pennsylvania. Who knows, I might even do an interview from time to time. Bands who wish to be featured in this column can contact me, by way of e-mail, at: Creeper@juno.com (Pennsylvania bands only)
Until next time…Creep it Up…Pennsylvania style!