“Forget Syria! The biggest news of the week was Rock the Dock!” exclaims Jeff Grey of Kid Cousin, and what big news it was! As I reached the loading dock of the Winter Visual and Performing Arts Center, the crowd certainly seemed to be rocking.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
This weekend, on Saturday, September 7th, music history was made here at Millersville at the first annual Rock the Dock music festival featuring local and up and coming bands. Organized by Chelsea Snow and co-coordinated by Luke Helker and sponsored by PSECU, Rock the Dock was one of the numerous events scheduled for a month long event extravaganza occurring throughout September called Maraudermalooza. Of all the events that I’ve attended thus far, however, Rock the Dock seemed to be the most highly anticipated.
Rock the Dock kicked off at 4:00 p.m., opening with the band Sandraudiga, a progressive metal band from Lancaster who describes their style as “brutal yet melodic in-your-face metal” on the band’s Facebook page. Sandraudiga consists of Trevor Rodgers, Katie Jewell, Dan Tonzola, Evan Wilt, Tyler Kline and Jason Irwin on guitar, piano, drums, guitar, vocals, and bass, respectively. Born out of Bird-in-Hand, PA, Sandraudiga’s music has been heard over much of the state as well as places as far away as Texas.
The second band to play goes by the name Kid Cousin, formerly the Jeff Grey Band, and was born out of Millersville itself. The band features Jeff Grey on vocals and guitar, AJ Ortiz on lead guitar, Steve Mea on Drums, and Evan Seeberger on the bass. Kid Cousin played six songs at Rock the Dock, Starting off with “Saint”, flowing smoothly into a cover of “Weird Fishes” by Radiohead, followed by “Trapdoor”, “The Crossing”, then “Body Language”, and finishing with Cottonmouth. When asked his opinion on Rock the Dock, front man Jeff Grey replied that it’s a “great way to expose Millersville students to local music not only from Millersville, but from Lancaster as well.”
As Kid Cousin was leaving the stage, and the next band was setting up, the DJ, Stephan Brown, put on the well-known dance song “Wobble” by V.I.C., and many of the seated onlookers stood up and shook themselves crazy to the tune, providing somewhat of a seventh inning stretch to the festival.
As the dance mob wrapped up, the next band, Crisscross Albatross simultaneously finished setting up for their performance and, as they came out on stage, the crowd that had gathered near the dock went wild. The band opened right into their first song, “Songstress”. Founded at Millersville, Crisscross Albatross is a five man band, featuring Aaron Rodden on lead vocals and guitar, Luke Helker on percussion, Collin Brough on bass guitar, Joe Migliore on keys and rhythm guitar, and Chelsea Snow, Rock the Dock coordinator on backup vocals and tambourine. After “Songstress”, the band launched into “Cold Shiver”, followed by “Scales”, “Sandcastle Kings”, and ending with “Old Friends”. Rodden said that the best part about housing the concert series at the loading dock was that there was “already a stage, already a roof, and it was the perfect place to play outside.”
Following Crisscross Albatross was the similarly Millersville founded band, Chaos Thompson, a funk fusion band whose style is self-described as “Tree Trunk Funk,” has a sound like no else. Featuring not only guitar, bass, keys, and drums (Kyle Montondo, Rory Flynn, Brad Mastrangelo, and Jimmy Swartz, respectively), the band also adds an infusion of jazz with Sean Kase on the trombone and Chris Boullata on the saxophone. Their instrumental and downright funky style had the crowd on its feet and dancing.
At 7:00, the headliner band, Toy Soldiers, came out on stage and truly made the dock rock. Formed in 2007, it began as a duo and experienced a number of members before settling on the five-piece band that is Toy Soldiers today. The band consists of Ron Gallo on vocals, guitar, and harmonica; Bill McCloskey on bass and vocals; Luke Leidy on keys; Matt Kelly on guitar; and Dominic Billett on Drums and vocals. The band currently has one album, “Whisper Down the Lane” and one EP, “Get Through the Time EP” released, but the band is eagerly anticipating the September 10th release date of their second full-length album, “The Maybe Boys”, which was produced by Bill Moriarty of Dr. Dog and Man Man. Along with their album release, Toy Soldiers is beginning a fall tour beginning in Lancaster and winding its way around the east coast and the South. While they may not be a household name yet, “USA Today” named them one of the “Top Bands to Watch in 2013”, and with the release of their new album their name is bound to become more prevalent.
As the show was winding down, I had the chance to interview Chelsea Snow and ask her how she felt about the show. She said that she was very happy with the turn out for the first year which was nice because Rock the Dock was such a “great way to appreciate music outside on a nice day… with great music, good food, and fun games put on by the Black Student Union.” While she did mention that planning took a lot of work, Snow was adamant that it was definitely all worth it and that she looks forward to making Rock the Dock another of the many wonderful traditions here at Millersville.