Showcasing their skills: Next Phase Music Fest features youth bands

By London Thompson


Orphan Riot performed as part of the Next Phase Music Fest on July 29 at The Fat Frogg in Elon. [London Thompson / Times-News

   ELON — Being talented and under 21 years old often comes with the disadvantage of finding venues to showcase your skills. For many young musicians, their age is often the only thing   holding them back.
To combat this issue and offer a platform for young rock, punk and indie bands to perform, the owners of the The Fat Frogg and Music Mania Recording studio came together to create    Next Phase Music Festival.
On July 29, five local bands with members ranging from ages 13 to 20 performed during the Next Phase Music Fest at The Fat Frogg, 2009 Timberline Station Dr. Bands included   Student Health; Sadie Rock & The Mad Ryans; Red Currency; and Orphan Riot.
The idea originated from Mike Greene, manager of Orphan Riot.
As a former member of a band at a young age, Greene said he sympathized with the bands’ struggle. He explained that this event was “born out of the frustration of trying to find places   where bands that had people under 21 could play.”
In the the 1990s the Thomas brothers had a punk band, Stickboy, that toured regionally and nationally. When Greene approached them with the idea, they were on board.
Jason Thomas said that when Stickboy performed, it was easy to book a gig at a house party or a youth center. To have the opportunity to perform at a club was a big deal.
After visiting a few of the underage band concerts in the area, Greene and Orphan Riot began meeting band members. In no time, the bands formed a bond and now refer to each other     as “one big family.”
Greene’s 13-year-old son, Noel Greene, is singer and guitarist for Orphan Riot.
   Noel Greene said that events like these “promote the business and the band while equally providing much-needed exposure to both parties.”
Even though Noel was the youngest band member in attendance, he had the voice of someone well-beyond his years.
Orphan Riot performed popular punk covers like “Hey! Oh! Let’s Go,” by the Ramones along with a few of its own songs. The crowd bobbed their heads and sang along. Other band members had formed a mosh pit near the stage and danced around to support Orphan Riot.
CJ Sierra, drummer for Student Health, emphasized that, “back in the day, a lot of bands were at each other’s throats. Bands didn’t really have a sense of camaraderie or togetherness because opposing members would treat events like competitions.”
Sierra stressed that all the bands present try to maintain their family bond and to support each other.
The variety of sounds produced by each band was unique and did a great job of showcasing their dedication to music.

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