Conor Boal, left, and Kyle Tom of Devil's Angels play at the San Mateo County Fair's second annual Battle of the Bands sponsored by School of Rock Monday night. The 14-year-olds from San Ramon took home the "Best of the Bay" title which came with a $1,000 check.
"You headbangers should enjoy this one,” 14-year-old Devil’s Angels drummer Philip Deluca said to the crowd Monday night at the San Mateo County Fair.
The four boys from San Ramon, all 14, started playing right away. Lights were going and lead guitarist Kyle Tom took off his hat to get in on some headbanging action.
It’s not usually 14-year-olds rocking the main stage at the county fair. This year’s lineup includes platinum recording artists who first made it big in the ’80s and ’90s. But Monday night offered a newer, younger, up-and-coming type of artist a chance to play the same arena in the second annual School of Rock Battle of the Bands. After three days of preliminary rounds, which started with 21 bands, the top eight took the county fair main stage Monday night.
Devil’s Angels, most likely the youngest of the performers that night, took home the "Best of the Bay” title which came with a $1,000 check. The Jackie Rocks Band, known as JRB, took second which came with a $500 prize. Down for the Count rounded out the top three and went home with $250.
Joe Marchek, who plays rhythm guitar for Devil’s Angels, came off the stage hopeful that the group had what it took to win it all.
If they did win, bassist Conor Boal noted the boys would split the money. Marchek added the group, which formed a little over a year ago, did owe their parents for the instruments. So money may go to paying them back.
The main stage was by far the biggest venue the bands ever played.
Kyle Moore, guitarist for Burlingame’s P13, was surprised to start playing and have professional lighting start up. Moore was unaware that would occur.
The guys, who are working with Studio 880 in Oakland to develop a four-song album, had never played a stage that size. Bassist Jackson Stodgel described their set as their best ever.
A dad in the audience agreed, cheering and making the same comment during the show.
Parents were out in full force Monday night.
During the fourth song of San Lorenzo-based pop-punk group The Dialed, Paula Ortman stood before the stage with her digital camera ready. Occasionally, Ortman danced along to the music.
She’s one of The Dialed’s biggest fans. Why wouldn’t she be? The lead singer, Daniel Price, is her son. She explained that, although the group had only been together five years, the guys had been friends since childhood. All were self taught.
"They love what they do,” she said.
The battle gave young musicians a chance to show their skills to a larger audience. To enter, bands needed to be from the Bay Area, comprised of members ages 7 to 21 and have at least two original songs.
"It’s great seeing live music,” Phil Sollar, owner of Drum World, who helped judge the event.
Sollar added he hoped the exposure would lead to gigs for the bands.
Aldo Noboa, co-founder of School of Rock who also helped judge, noted kids are in garages making music already. A venue like the battle of the bands gives those youth a chance to see each another perform and come together with like-minded individuals.
Heather Murtagh can be reached by e-mail: [email protected] or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 105.