Local High School Bands Unmasked at The Masquerade

LeahZarzour, News Editor

This past Wednesday, Chattahoochee’s Christian Touchet (SR) and his band, “Baba and the Vangas,” performed an astounding show at The Masquerade. Several high school bands including “Anti Trance,” “Changing Names” and “Deep V Dean & The Boys” created an electrifying atmosphere at the Purgatory Lounge.

Each packed performance carried a different vibe and stylistic sound onto the stage. The first group, “Anti Trance,” evolved into a bass spectacle that sounded like a typical hard rock power trio with a modern twang. They truly blessed the audience with a fantastic cover of “Black Rain” by Soundgarden with plentiful pedal work, in which their performance was even better than the original; the heavy sorted bass filled the atmosphere and took the crowd by surprise. The brief performance ended with their lead female bassist and head guitarist/singer leaving the stage, making the crowd shouting for more.

Even after the incredible openers, the second band, “Changing Names,” did not fail to uphold the expectation and energy of the relentless crowd. They began the show with a cover of “Another Brick in the Wall” by Pink Floyd and “Feel Good Inc.” by Gorillaz; without hesitating, the audience came to life once again. With a fantastic choice of covers, they quickly got the crowd to sing along for the first time of the show. During the beginning of their performance, drummer, Jackson Rifkin, attempted a stick trick though failed to grasp on to it. One of the sticks even landed a few feet away from the drum set causing a brief pause with no drums. Rifkin jumps out of his seat and quickly retrieves his stick, then jumps right back in with only a momentary pause, leaving it as a minor transition that flowed perfectly. Although this was their only obvious mistake, each of the members continued to play coherently without drawing attention to the absence of drums. Near the end, It seemed that the relentless crowd was about to dismantle before they closed with yet another cover by Rage Against the Machine, in which then turned into constant pushing against the squage stage.

Pushing was certainly not the end of it; with the third performance, “Baba and the Vangas,” it turned into an instant mosh-like, jumping excitement. Lead singer, Touchet, and bassist Cole Smith came onto stage with an 80’s style, extra large, black trench coats and swimming goggles while the drummer snuck onto stage with a spray painted motorcycle helmet. Unlike the previous bands, the opening song started out with a slow, opening passage; five seconds later, a sudden hit of heavy bass and screaming got the crowd more alive than the previous bands combined. The stage was hit with rage and madness as Touchet led the audience in what turned into a scream-off. The setup, however, was even more awkward than Touchet’s swimming goggles and trench coats; their lead guitarist Kyle Smith was deep within the shadows in the corner of the stage, almost hiding from the colorful lights beaming onto the floor. Despite the overpowering shadows, Cole jumped out and interacted with the screaming teens at the edges of the stage showing the passion the crowd had been waiting for. Kyle was using a classic overdriven tone with a tube amp and pedal while Touchet and Cole were both using a heavier, dirtier fuzz; together, they gave off a thick distorted mass of sound. The vocals were strong and powerful; Touchet’s vocals matched his talent on the guitar as well, eventually the intensity was so strong on both the stage and with the crowd that one of the strings on Touchet’s guitar snapped entirely. With a quick guitar switch up, they were once again ready to perform and give it their all. After multiple songs, it became clear the energy was running low with only a few minutes to spare. After their main drummer (Rifkin) did not show up for their last song to switch with the current drummer (as planned), the three came together and came up with a song to play. It was not entirely clear whether their last song was performed on a whim or if it was actually planned. Either way, no one can go wrong with a cover of The White Stripes, “I Fell In Love With a Girl.” The uneasy, shaking Cole showed a similar punk vocal style as Touchet; just watching him can get anyone into the performance, proving that he presented pure passion and rage singing every word to mimic Jack White. The powerful ending brought the entire crowd together, again eagerly pushing trying to get a photo of the relentless performers for the last couple of minutes. Once again, another tough performance to top off.  

Last but not least, Deep V Dean and the Boys had quite a bit to keep up with. Though they had a slow and steady beginning, their crowd grew rapidly. The smooth rock feel added to the mellow ambiance; nevertheless the audience at this point was at its peak with even more energy and togetherness.

Perhaps it was the order of performances that were off, or maybe it was the setlists; nevertheless, each of the bands performed their best and even that was good enough. From the tiny bubble of high school, these students are far beyond the talent they are depicted of. Despite a few harmless errors, at least one of them will make it into the big time.


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