By John Benson
Local band Deo Vindice brought its A game for its semifinals appearance last month at the House of Blues’ 15th annual Tri-C High School Rock Off in Cleveland.
“It went perfect,” said guitarist Zach Warmouth, 16. “It was so much fun, and honestly, like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. The House of Blues is such an amazing venue. I don’t know how to explain it. Our show came out really good, and we got a lot of good feedback. One of the best things I heard is that everybody had a different favorite song, so that made me happy.”
Inspired by AC/DC and Van Halen, the quartet — Austintown Fitch High School students Warmouth, keyboardist Alex Welsh, 16, singer-guitarist Kane Yak, 17, and Boardman High School bassist Danny McMaster, 16 — used its Rock Off time on stage to play originals such as the fun-sounding “High,” the in-your-face “Shake n’ Bake” and the laid-back “Here’s to the Nights,” as well as a cover of Kings of Leon’s “Four Kicks.” It’s the latter track that the guitarist said connected heavily with the audience.
“A lot of people who know of Kings of Leon knew the song well,” Warmouth said. “One of the reasons we picked that cover is because it’s not too popular of a Kings of Leon song. You really have to know the band to know it, and the people who did know it said they thought it sounded real nice.”
Up next for the foursome is the Rock Off Final Exam on Saturday at the downtown- Cleveland venue. Warmouth said despite making it to the finals, Deo Vindice — which started as one of 72 bands in a competition that now is down to the final 18 — has plenty of work left to hone its sound. For a local group, there’s quite a pot of gold that is now in reach.
The winning outfit receives $500, a full-color 3-foot-by-8-foot vinyl banner printed with its logo, a $500 gift card from Sam Ash Music and 24 hours of recording time. In addition, the group will appear on Tri-C’s cable television programs “Crooked River Groove” and “Words & Music.”
Perhaps the most lucrative prize for the winner is the fact they will have the opportunity to open for a national band at the House of Blues or a Live Nation venue. The winner’s high school band fund also receive a $200 donation.
Second place will receive $200 in cash plus a $100 donation to their high school band fund, as well as 12 hours of recording time. Third place will receive $100 in cash and 12 hours of recording time. All finalists receive a $25 gift certificate to Sam Ash Music and will record a song for this year’s High School Rock Off CD.
“This will be the 18 best bands around here, and so the competition will be crazy,” Warmouth said. “I know that going in. I think anything can happen. I’m excited we got to this point. It’s just an honor to be here. And honestly, we can win it all or we could not win it, and I’m happy with what we did so far.”
Considering the Deo Vindice members are all juniors, thus another year of Rock Off eligibility remains, will they return in 2012?
“We’d love to come back,” Warmouth said. “Any opportunity to play the House of Blues would be great.”
For more information about the 15th Annual Tri-C High School Rock Off, go to kisscleveland.com/rockoff.