On Friday, December 9 four New York-based rock bands converged at the historic Paramount Hudson Valley Theater in Peekskill for a spectacular night of music. Originally positioned as an Indie-Rock showcase, it transitioned into a solid Rock and Roll one, and that’s OK! What we heard at the Paramount that night was punk, funk, R&B and rock and roll all fused into something fresh, new and modern. It was a long night that was super-charged and lots of fun. The enthusiastic audience stuck with it all the way to the end.
Presented by River Towns Music Group, the producers of the show, co-founders Elizabeth Goodyear and Alain Begun, did not disappoint. Their goal has been to bring more independent and original live music to New York’s river towns and this event was proof that music fans were ready and willing participants. The RTMG night of rock was made possible through the support of sponsors Ginsburg Development Companies, Robison Oil, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices River Towns Real Estate, Go No Sen Karate Dojo, Bill Volz’s Westchester Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, City Winery Hudson Valley, Ecogy Energy, Dain’s Lumber, Wild Blast Fitness and JuneShine.
Although I tried not to get too lost in the definition of indie music I asked around to see what this broad term meant to various attendees. Glenn Quaedvlieg, an avid live music fan who helps with events onstage and backstage, described indie as “barebones” or “grunge.” Another attendee described the genre as those who are, “up and coming, independent and not signed to any major label.” “There’s ‘indie-country,’ ‘indie rock,’ and more.” In my view “indie” meant something that had never been heard before – not derivative of any other sound or well-known band. Musicians and fans alike will tell you that this is impossible. All “original” artists must get their inspiration from somewhere.
Live music has been booming in Peekskill over the last several years with local venues or organizations such as BeanRunner Café, River Outpost Brewery, Peekskill Brewery, Birdsall House, Gleason’s and Arts 10566’s Feel Good (summer music series), to name a few. RTMG’s events have been a welcome addition, encouraging people to visit Peekskill and offering music fans a greater variety of music events to enjoy.
The first band to take the stage was Battle of the Bands winner Platinum Moon. The band includes Ava Anduze, vocals, Anton Klettner, lead guitar, Joseph Klettner, keys and rhythm guitar, Ethan Grosman, drums and Toby Dorfman on bass. Although their band members are young, ages ranging from 17 – 21, the musicians came on the stage like a veteran rock band. This wasn’t their first win. Winners of other contests, they performed at both the Pleasantville Music Festival and Pound Ridge Harvest Festival this past summer.
Commanding the stage, Anduze’s dynamic power vocals and choreographed movements were perfectly in sync with each strum and riff. Although some of their influences and sounds are recognizable, think classic 70s and 80s such as Led Zeppelin, Heart and others, Platinum Moon is a perfect example of skilled musicians borrowing the best from the music past and introducing a modern perspective. Young audiences appreciate their solid rock and roll sound and older rock fans appreciate recognizable influences and energy.
Next up was No Grudges. This NYC funk punk-rock band core band members include lead vocalist Crystalla Gonzalez and Gabriel Castellar on guitar. Rounding out the band were guest musicians on bass and drums. Trained on stage in musical theater, Gonzalez’s vocal prowess and performance were both powerful and beautiful. She also exuded a punk attitude that could’ve rivaled Deborah Harry of Blondie back in the day. Castellar and Gonzales’s chemistry cannot be denied. His guitar grooves and style complement the vocals, truly in sync, which is very entertaining to watch. In my opinion, No Grudges was at its best when they slowed down the tempo for the song “To The Top.” This allowed the audience to truly hear Gonzalez’s tone and the skillfulness of Castellar’s guitar playing. Their new single “Put It Together” was another favorite tune from that night’s set.
The first headliner, a Brooklyn band called LoveHoney, is composed of lead vocalist Aly Quiñones, guitarist Tommy White, drummer Tom Gehlhaus and bassist Meghan Rose. They describe themselves as psych rock, but I also heard R&B, soul, punk and funk in their style. They band played a full set, over ten songs with “Liquid” catching my attention as a standout.
Aly in not large in stature, but she commands the stage with her powerful vocals and badass rock and rock attitude (in a good way). There’s a unique quality to her voice that during the mellow songs, the audience could truly hear. LoveHoney is made up of skillful and passionate musicians with a super cool vibe and persona. You can hear their musical influences, 60s psychedelic rock and 70s hard rock, but LoveHoney’s sound is uniquely their own. What was most notable about their performance and not missed on the audience, was the fun they were having. I believe they could have performed all night if they were given the opportunity to and the audience would have been ok with it!
Headliner, The Bluechips were the last to come on stage around 10:30 pm. The band members feature Paulie “Pasta” Beladino, singer and drummer Jake Albi and bassist Tom Davis. It was clear from the get-go that they have loyal and adoring fans! They’re only three musicians, but sound like a large rock band.
The Bluechips have a rock sensibility, but what I’d consider more Pop than the other three bands. Although very different style-wise, their performance made me think about a They Might be Giants concert I attended years ago. Their playfulness and charisma drew the audience in and for much of their set, fans were up on their feet and singing along.
Their set was a nice combination of softer, yet powerful rock tunes such as, “Someone Save Us” and harder hitting rock tunes. I must confess that I turned into a pumpkin around 11:45. Although I didn’t want to leave, I stayed long enough to hear a song called “Careless.“ At this point the crowd had moved up to the stage and was chanting the lyrics along with the band in synchronicity.
They came on the stage late in the evening and their loyal fans held out until the end. There’s no doubt that they gained new ones this evening too.
PlatinumMoon, No Grudges, LoveHoney and The Bluechips proved that there is a new wave of emerging artists, modern rock bands that are combining the sounds of classic rock, hard rock, funk, punk and R&B to create something new and exciting. It’s honestly very refreshing to see. What was also unique about this showcase, indie, rock or whatever, was that three out of the four bands, Platinum Moon, No Grudges, LoveHoney, have powerful female lead vocalists. They all rocked hard and brought their unique styles and sounds to the Paramount.
If I could say anything to critique the experience, I’d say that it was a little long for most attention spans can bear. With that in mind, I might have been wrong since the seats remained full up to the end of the show.
I’m looking forward to River Towns Music Group’s next live music showcase.
Elisa Zuckerberg is the founder of HearItThere.com