When Prince George band Adaero sent their audition tape to a local radio station in hope of being selection as contestants for the 2002 Battle of the Bands, they were rejected on the basis that they were “too loud and vulgar,” muses band member Dustin Delorme.
They take it as a compliment.
The band’s devoted fans won’t likely hear them on the airwaves, but can’t get enough of their “metal core” sound at Growlies on 3rd Avenue, a pizza joint turned popular concert venue, that Adaero, among other local and out-of-town bands like Kelowna’s Stutterfly, has zoned in on in the last year.
“Growlies offers a free stage for anyone who wants to get up there, so it’s the right cost,” said Delorme.
“There is nowhere else in town that bands like us can play. We played at Art Space once but I think they have difficulty with the louder shows.”
And despite the fact that Growlies owner Neal Hagreen has more tempered musical tastes, and will often put a wall between himself and the show, he tolerates the cacophony for two reasons.
“From a purely capitalistic point of view it’s good business. Growlies has already gained a reputation across the country with promoters who are looking for an inexpensive gig. We don’t charge and they make between $400 and $500 a show. They really go for it. We’ve brought in bands as far south as Kelowna and as far east as Montreal,” said Hagreen.
“A more noble reason for doing it is, simply, there’s no other place. This is a free venue for anyone who wants to hold a show, but so far the kids are the only ones who’ve jumped on it. It gives them a place to get up there and perform. That’s a really big thing and they have to learn how to do it.”
Growlies became known as a concert hot spot for teens last winter when an event which was to be held at Youth Around Prince (YAP) needed a venue at the last minute.
“I got a call and within 15 minutes I had 40 kids in here,” said Hagreen. “We don’t have a P.A. but I offered up the space for free. It has been first come, first serve ever since and they keep coming back.”
At their biggest concert yet last month, with local band Floored and Stutterfly from Kelowna, Hagreen said 270 people attended the show.
However the pizzeria owner walks a fine line between good business and potential hazard with his 60-person capacity shop. Ever since the Rhode Island night club incident earlier this month in which 96 people were killed trying to escape a fire, Hagreen said he has been in informal discussions with fire officials.
“My first concern is safety and I’m getting on top of it. I am looking into getting CE2 fire extinguishers for the shows and will be taking the bars out of the windows and probably have to expand the door,” he said.
The owner is also looking at booking concerts on Thursday nights and handling over-flow by carrying over shows to the following day.
“I want to make it safe for everyone. They’re good kids and I always enjoy having them play here. They put on good shows and bring crowds.”
Adaero plays Growlies February 28 (tomorrow) at 7 p.m.