Bands play at high school to benefit Conn. student

“Thank you for saving my day and thank you for saving our day,” was the touching comment by 17-year-old Somers High School student John Tschummi on April 12 after emo-pop group ‘Saves the Day’ played free of charge to a packed Spartan gymnasium in north central Connecticut.
Both Tschummi and members of the Princeton, N.J. band have had their share of trauma involved with an untimely car accident. The teenager has been through intensive brain surgery in the past year after a 45-day coma resulted in blindness in one eye and deafness in one ear.
The benefit was organized by friends, faculty members, and most importantly by the persistence and loyalty of friend Chris Petrella, also a senior from Somers. From the start it was unlikely that the school district would allow the event, being advertised through Ellington, Conn. punk upstarts ‘Overlook’ and their website, as well as Petrella’s efforts working with faculty.
The show was intended for students in the tri-town district of Ellington, which covers Suffield and Somers. Petrella persisted in promoting the show to be open to the public. The day before the show, Saves the Day drove up and singer Chris Conley described the cordial reception meeting the boys’ family at a Ruby Tuesdays restaurant.
Needless to say the gym was packed by early evening and the sound dynamics in the gym were impeccable as if this were any other live music venue. Teenage and twenty-something patrons loitered the hardwood court as the stage was set in front of a Somers Spartan banner and opening band ‘Overlook’ took the stage.
‘Overlook,’ the north central Connecticut’s hottest emo-punk band on the rise, took to the makeshift stage under a basketball hoop to a grand reception. Playing in the same gym as the band members had taken Physical Education classes in the past, ‘Overlook’ had plenty of energy and impressed their friends in the crowd.
The mass of kids in front of the stage enjoyed new Overlook tunes off their debut EP “From Here On In. “Words Unspoken” and “Day Dreamer” were two highlights as well as a slew of fairly older material from when the band was known as settleFOURnothing.
After tossing out Krispy Kreme hats to the crowd after a brief story of how the guys had just acquired the paper caps the previous weekend out on Long Island, ‘Overlook’ closed their set with a punked rendition of Pat Benatar’s 1980 pop-metal classic “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.”
Following a brief set change former New Haven indie-core rockers Hot Rod Circuit emerged from the Somers High hallways and took their place on stage.
The band’s popularity is growing among college radio waves thanks in part to their persistent touring as well as the March release of “Sorry About Tomorrow,” their first release on indie giant Vagrant Records.
Hot Rod was welcomed to Somers by the cheers of several hundred high school teens as the band immediately plugged in and began their set. The band played mostly new songs from “Sorry” including their first single, “Radiation Suit,” but also included older fan favorites “Radio Song” and “Flight 89 (North American).” The band’s unique on-stage enthusiasm is consistently demonstrated by lead guitarist Casey Prestwood, who flails around the stage in seizure-like jerks and fallen break-dances, but never misses a beat.
After a dozen songs ‘Hot Rod’ left the stage after a charged hardcore meets indie rock licked set and anticipation of the show headliners’ ‘Saves The Day’ was thickening in the sweaty gym. ‘Overlook’ bassist Matt was even making refreshment runs for kids wedged close to the stage as wads of dollars were passed forward for Poland Springs.
At 9:30 p.m. Chris Conley led his Saves The Day band mates up the steps to the stage as the gym bleachers rumbled with thunderous cheer from the masses.
Conley, who can easily be mistaken for a high schooler himself with his thrift shop wardrobe and mop of blonde hair and a not yet manly scraggly goatee, thanked the crowd for coming out. He acknowledged the sincere generosity of all and especially Prettella in support of Tschummi and his family and invited all to rock out with the band for this pre-spring break weekend show.
‘Saves The Day’ ran the gamut of songs in their catalogue through the set, playing everything from “Holly Hox, Forget Me Nots” and “All-Star Me” from 1999’s “Through Being Cool” disc to “Certain Tragedy” and “Cars and Calories” off last summer’s “Stay What You Are” LP on Vagrant.
All songs played off the distinctly emo-pop record “Stay” were played to perfection. “Freakish,” “Nightingale” and “See You” were all nailed in triumphant fashion despite a new addition to the band, a recently recruited drummer who had just started with the band in the past week.
The New Jersey quintet concluded their set with “My Sweet Fracture” and “Firefly.” Following the final song Tschummi joined ‘Saves The Day’ on stage where he was met with a great embrace from Conley.
The fortunate teen then took over the microphone and thanked the bands and the mass of schoolmates, ear-plugged teachers and large number of fellow patrons in the crowd. Judging by the exuberant smiling faces and watery eyes among audience members bands, Tschummi and family, the show really did save a boy’s day.