"I think an event with that much exposure is definitely a help," says Jason Kaminski, singer for Tooth Fuzz, an Elyria group that normally frequents the Phantasy as well as the Spot in Elyria. "It's not the easiest thing, to catch a break when you're a local band. Just being able to participate is an accomplishment in our eyes."
The bands were chosen from 138 regional submissions by company employees and a panel that included Flogging Molly bassist Nathan Maxwell and Story of the Year guitarist Phil Sneed. More than 10,000 bands entered the competition nationwide, creating online profiles and posting music. The mobile Ernie Ball Local Heroes stage stops at each of the 48 Warped dates. Company representatives will choose bands to play a Hollywood showcase, and online voters select bands to win prizes, with the top four groups receiving packages worth $25,000 each.
The bands will be the first four acts to play the show that day, warming up the stage for national acts, including Big D & the Kids' Table. The Ernie Ball stage stands out in an increasingly homogenized Warped lineup.
"You see other stages, and the music doesn't change from band to band," says Brian Ball of Ernie Ball. "We want to provide opportunities to bands that are doing well on the local scene, but who wouldn't even get a sniff of a Warped Stage, normally. I think Cleveland is more spread out than other cities. Some scenes just follow a trend. The people in Cleveland write what they feel. I think it's an unusual scene. There are good bands every year."
Warped hits Tower City Amphitheater on Thursday, July 21. Gates open at noon.
· Cleveland's True Line cinema is filming a documentary for the next two weeks at Spitboxers Reloaded, the weekly hip-hop battle at the Hi-Fi Club (11729 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood). Northeast Ohio rap godfather TLC will interview contemporary MCs, tracing hip-hop's roots back to earlier forms of urban rhyme.
· N.Y.C. singer-songwriter Aaron Brady will appear at the Tower City FYE (50 Public Square) Friday, June 17, at 6 p.m. to perform and meet and greet fans.
· Cosmic rockers the Sultans of Bing will unveil a jammy new side project, Los Hermanos Sultanos, Wednesday, June 22, at the Happy Dog (5801 Detroit Avenue).
· Akron post-punk quartet Hammer Damage will reunite for two shows on Friday, June 17, and Saturday, June 18, to play the fourth-anniversary weekend of Akron's Lime Spider (207 S. Main Street). The band formed in 1978, after drummer Mike Hammer and guitarist Dave "Donny Damage" Zagar split from the Rubber City Rebels, and recorded through 1982. Early in the group's run, original guitarist George Cabannis left the violently high-energy band to join the Dead Boys. "Hammer Damage showed that you can produce music independently, without having to do the career thing. [The band] is incredibly talented and totally vital to everything that is happening in Akron today," says Larry Gargus, singer for the Akron hardcore-throwback band Don Austin.