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Millennium Music Conference 15 Recap, Day One
February 18, 2011 - Jim Price
Again this year, I am attending the 15th annual Millennium Music Conference, taking place from February 17-20 at the Radisson Penn Harris Hotel and Convention Center. I’ll try to provide updates as the conference progresses.
The business portion of the conference starts on Friday. The first showcase performances from some of the nearly 300 bands and artists involved with the conference started on Thursday evening.
I arrived at the Radisson at roughly 8:15 p.m. Memo to myself...Give myself extra time and arrive earlier so I can clear any last-minute hotel desk glitches and get re-acclimated with Harrisburg’s interstate highway system.
After clearing up said hotel desk glitch, I took to the Harrisburg interstate system and promptly missed my exit off I-83, thus having to backtrack to my destination, Gullifty’s in the Cedar Cliff Mall (which is actually off the New Cumberland exit off I-83, not the Cedar Cliff exit like I was looking for...someday I will figure out Harrisburg interstates).
The first band of the showcase, Hershey-based Fear The Fallen, was nearly done as I arrived, and I only got to witness one song. But they tore it up on that song, demonstrating ferocious, thrashy nu-metal that took no prisoners, at least on that song. They sounded ferocious enough that they made the Ted Nugent music that came over the sound system after their set sound like Justin Bieber by comparison.
Not surprisingly, there wasn’t a big crowd in attendance, since most of the conference attendees were still arriving in town this night and Friday morning, and it was a Thursday night.
Next up was Philadelphia’s Phantasm. I had heard a few songs from this group’s debut CD a couple of years ago, but didn’t recall much about their sound. But I will now, after witnessing their brand of experimental alternative-flavored rock in the live setting. Guitarist/keyboardist/singer Steven Ross, bassist/singer Aaron White and drummer Jay Yachetta flavored their sound with a variety of sonic effects, from loop pedals to distortion tones, eerie keyboard interludes and more. By way of comparison, Phantasm’s live sound suggested a middle ground between the harder side of Incubus and The Mars Volta. But while complex and experimental, Phantasm’s melodies and hooks were solid, and all three members were precise on their instruments. Steven’s voice showed soaring range, and his performance was confident. Overall, I liked Phantasm’s energtic performance, and I plan to go back and spend some more quality time with their CD.
The third band of the bill was Mechanicsburg-based foursome LaFours. Their sound was a blend of jangly alternative with a touch of emo, and their songs ranged from abrupt and explosive to slow-building and intense. They presented some interesting melodies, escalating arrangements and a lot of heated intensity. Their surging song structures swept fans into the fury, and their set went over well with the Gullifty’s audience.
Closing out the showcase was an interestingly-named trio from the Lebanon area called Florence & Libby. Their sound was primal, minimalist screamo-geared punk with a few unexpected twists. Their tunes ranged from short, screaming punk blasts to their closing song, which suggested a bipolar B52’s. Some audience members got it and stuck around, while others made their way for the exit. The group graciously thanked the folks who did stick around, as well as the sound engineer and the venue. Sometimes in music, it is difficult to be different.
This multi-flavored platter of rocking sounds set the tone for my 2011 Millennium experience. I eagerly await the new musical discoveries that will reveal themselves at the conference and on the showcase stages over the next two days.
As they were wrapping up their set to open the Gullifty's showcase, Hershey-based rock band Fear The Fallen.