Rock star summer

School’s out and several Chico musicians are graduating to bigger stages

BRAINY TYPES <br>Brain in a Cage’s Cor Vaspra (front), Nik Burman (back left) and Kirk Williams kicking down the doors.

Brain in a Cage’s Cor Vaspra (front), Nik Burman (back left) and Kirk Williams kicking down the doors.

Photo By Tom Angel

It’s time to hit the woodshed.

Three months of empty classrooms on campus and thin crowds at the clubs gives the local player a chance to write a new batch of songs and practice rock star moves before the students and spotlights return. That’s one option.

Another would be to pack up the van and head down to Sleep Train Amphitheatre for your gig with Slayer and Judas Priest, which is what the high-school metal-makers in Brain in a Cage will be doing during their summer break.

As winners of the Target Marketing/Good Shepherds Studio Battle of the Bands in Oroville last month (beating out 16 other bands), Brain in a Cage was promised an opening slot at a to-be-determined upcoming concert at Sleep Train. When the word came down that it would be the July 30 show with legendary thrashers Slayer (with reunited leather rockers Judas Priest), it was more than the band could’ve hoped for.

Just this past year Carol Kelly (mother of Brain bassist Cor Vaspra) had taken the whole group to the Warfield for lead singer/guitarist Kirk William’s 16th birthday to see Slayer play, and, she says, the guys remarked that “it would be cool” to play with Slayer someday (see, kids, dreams do come true).

The gig isn’t an opening slot proper—they’ll be playing for two-and-one-half hours in the V.I.P. tent before the show starts—but the chance to share their music with a wider audience (and who knows how “I” those V.I.P.s might be?) is a treat for a band whose members still have a couple years of high school left.

Brain in a Cage isn’t the only local musical product enjoying a high-profile opportunity this summer. The Sleep Train V.I.P. tent gig is actually fairly common for locals in the next few months. August 30, LaSalles regulars Standard will warm up folks before the Dave Matthews concert, and groovy country-rockers Buffalo Creek will start the jam off early playing before The Dead on June 27.

Metal punks Red with Envy are also playing Sleep Train—July 8 on the Ernie Ball stage—as part of the Vans Warped tour. Chosen from thousands of entries vying to play the skate/music fest, Red with Envy is also part of Ernie Ball’s upcoming online Battle of the Bands, competing for tons of free equipment and the opportunity to play industry showcases in SoCal. As a warm-up, the band is headlining at the Contra Costa County Fair for a couple thousand kids at Antioch High’s Grad Night on June 5.

More local music news:

Sid Lewis is back in festival form with his new band Crazy Grass. His latest jamgrass incarnation is following in the footsteps of his long-defunct Fire Monkeys as they take part in the California World Fest in Grass Valley (July 15-18) and open for David Grisman at the Trinity Tribal Stomp in Hayfork (Sept. 10-12). …

Thirst, the most upwardly mobile band in Chico, has been getting an increasing amount of airplay on local radio stations (107FM-the Point, 95.1FM-the Mix), and has sold roughly 4,000 CDs despite limited out-of-town exposure. …

While Thirst’s management has been entertaining offers from a couple of record labels, Gibson guitars has given the band an artist sponsorship, the band’s songs have been licensed with FoxSports and are playing regularly on the eXtreme sports program 54321, and the group played live in a scene filmed at S.F.'s Red Devil Lounge for The Learning Channel’s What Not to Wear program, airing June 9. …

Dannyland is officially out now, and Anti Records is having a big shindig for the release of local avant musician Danny Cohen’s new release on May 27 at the Knitting Factory in Hollywood, with Moris Teper (guitarist with Tom Waits, Frank Black) opening. Cohen’s “L.A.” band is backing him for his premiere in Hollywood, and the local boys (Carey Wilson, Snake, John LaPado and Dave Hurst) will join him at Doc’s Clock on June 6 for the S.F. release party. …

This last one is just rumor, but rumor has it that Casey Deitz, the incredible drummer for indie-punkers The Americas, is at the very least temporarily filling in for Velvet Teen’s injured drummer. Nothing official has been announced, but the indie/emo darlings have just finished recording with Death Cab for Cutie’s Chris Walla, and plans for touring Japan (with The Americas) are in the air.