Rockin’ Friends at Rocktober

The Paper Box held its FIRST annual ROCKTOBER earlier this month. It included over 60 bands on five stages and the fest was run by four different promoters, each with their own headliners. There were groups of various genres eager to celebrate the beginning of what is dubbed Tour Season amongst traveling bands. Despite the venue having major time setbacks of 1 + hour on each stage, three Long Island bands who have amusingly called their performances together, ‘The Three Best Friends Tour’ out shined all the others. (Photos are from a previous show at Barringtons).
First up was the ambient, indie rock group I, Revere. The band is led by their strong voiced singer, Pauline Pisano who despite the sound technicians’ difficulty in achieving volume in her microphone, still belted out her lyrics while gracefully complimenting the band’s driving sound on her keyboard. Jason Crawford, the drummer made sure you could feel each hit of his drumstick in your chest, making you feel as though you were connected to the music.  Billy Brancato’s ability to find the right balance of sustained chords, present leads, and time bending effects which gives the band both a full sound and an ever-changing focal point of each song; a task fulfilled very impressively being that Billy is the lone guitar player in an often dual-guitar dominated genre and even with all of this to the thunderous yet appropriately daring bass lines of Jay Giacomazzo are that in which one cannot ignore.
I revere
Following suit was Con the Villain: a spacey progressive rock band that keeps its audience mesmerized with an indescribable tension throughout their entire set, yet feels appropriate and welcomed. There is also no denying the talent that looms over the entirety of this band. Scott Kearney’s intense vocals would unquestionably overpower just about any other band’s instrumental structuring. However, with Con The Villian’s song structure, it is balanced to perfection. Scott Kearney finds a way to be vocally and lyrically captivating; all while playing his guitar and not sacrificing complexity in his instrumentals. Chris Walls’ hammering drums were a particular surprise as he found a way to be both hard-hitting and playing an array of constantly changing time signatures, while not sounding overly obscure and losing the casual concert goers. All of this, combined with Anto Gabriele’s intricate and swift guitar playing, and Alex Mazurkewitz’s confident and sustaining bass, make Con the Villain a perplexing, yet a very enjoyable band to witness.
The last band to take the stage was Whiskey Hotel and was unfortunately shoved (like the previous mentioned bands) on a tiny stage with pink floodlights that looked as though they belonged on the porch of a sorority house instead of professional venue.  Why The Paper Box chose to place the Long Island talent on such a small space away from the main stage still remains inconclusive and bewildering. Despite their disadvantage and 1:35 AM performance time, Whiskey Hotel fought to prove to the crowds at Rocktober that even though they had a 2-hour time set back, they still had enough energy to thrust back at the crowd to end the festival the way it was meant to. Front man Shawn O’Connor didn’t care if the crowd was too tired to move; instead. he frequented the bar by the stage and encouraged everyone to do so since it was a night to celebrate the start of fall touring, and good music was in the air. Even though the stage had barely enough room to accommodate all five members, their rock music was still pulsating throughout the venue with good energy. Even as late as it was, the band still found ways to have as much fun playing as they would if performing at a normal time and made  it apparent to the audience when a few songs at the right moments, the band would yell out a Rick Flair esque whoo to encourage the crowd to join in. Whiskey Hotel as a band bring something different to the self proclaimed “Three Best Friends Tour,” by being something more familiar: a straightforward rock band of five guys in their mid-twenties, who just want to write songs for crowds to enjoy as much as they enjoy playing them.

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