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Millennium Music Conference Recap, Night Three
February 19, 2009 - Jim Price
The 13th annual Millennium Music Conference took place in the Harrisburg area this past weekend. This is a continuation of my reports from the event, resuming with Saturday night’s showcases.
Although I had a few ideas beforehand where I might go and who I might see during this night’s showcases, nothing strongly stood out for me. So I decided to do what I have often done during past years; let the conference process work on me. Whoever did the best job of attracting my attention during the conference itself – either through networking, promotion, or with a strong performance on the trade show acoustic stage – might have the inside track for seeing my face in their audience this night.
Since I liked what I had heard during their sampler mini-set at the trade show stage the day before, I returned to Rumors in Enola to start off the evening with SpyderLylly. An all-female foursome from New Jersey, SpyderLylly performed a strong set of hard-edged, punchy, melody-geared rock. The tunes themselves slightly recalled the GoGo’s or Bangles, but driven with a hard, jagged edge and sass. Mini-skirted lead singer Luckee Demmy provided that sass and fire throughout the set, perhaps partially inspired by her uncomfortable boots, which she shed midway through the set. Some of the group’s repertoire this night included such songs as “Let You In,” “Make Your Move,” “Time to Fly” and more. SpyderLylly provided a sharp, hard-rocking set to wake up the Rumors audience and get the night off to a good start.
Next on the bill was Philadelphia’s Soraia. Five members strong, Soraia unleashed an incredible display, with a sound that suggested Led Zeppelin had Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham hired on Janis Joplin to sing instead of Robert Plant…powerful, crunchy rhythms; stinging guitar solos; booming beats; and lead singer Sue Mansour’s freewheeling, wildly passionate and soulful performance. Their songs were strong, including several from their latest CD, Shed the Skin. I liked the overall firepower and swagger this band offered, and especially Sue’s intensity. Soraia’s performance was one of those I’ll most remember this year’s conference for, and I hope I get to see and hear this band again sometime down the road.
Although I entertained the thought of traveling elsewhere to catch another showcase, I was enjoying this one enough that I decided to stick around for more. New York City-based rockers Stark took the stage next. Formed in 2003 by singer/bassist Lani Ford, this trio rocked Rumors with a sound that blended a Motley Crue-meets-Motorhead metal roar with a female punk dynamic reminiscent of early Blondie. Their overall style was fast-firing, streamlined and sharp, as they did songs from their latest CD, Put It In Your Head, and other original numbers. Lani (who graced Millennium stages in years past as a backing singer with Gotham gender-bending rockers Temptress), guitarist/singer Joe Hogan and drummer Eric Robel put pedal to the metal and never let up. Stark is another band whose performance will remain in my mind for a while to come.
Closing out the showcase was Providence, Rhode Island’s Candace Brooks Band. This group performed an mostly uptempo brand of female-fronted indie rock with a slight No Doubt flavor; but with more velocity and edge. Namesake Candace Brooks sang and played guitar, demonstrating a gritty yet melodic voice. The group’s overall sound blended elements of pop, punk, ska and even heavy rock. Although Rumors' crowd was starting to thin out during the performance, the fans who remained cheered their approval for the Candace Brooks Band’s focused, no-nonsense performance.
All four of these bands justified my decision to head to, and remain at, Rumors this entire evening. All four brought a distinct style and flavor to the stage, and made for an interesting and invigorating night.
New Jersey's SpyderLylly kicks off the night at Rumors in Enola.