Bands, not bars | August 30, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - August 30, 2013

Bands, not bars

Teen musicians may be too young to play some venues, but they get an event all their own at the Hurricane Music Festival

by Sam Borsos

A Palo Alto teen-band music festival — organized by a Menlo Park teen — is back in town for the second year. The free Hurricane Music Festival will be held Saturday, Sept. 7, at Mitchell Park.

Steffan Salas, a Menlo Park resident and a senior at Menlo-Atherton High School, has lined up four teen bands — two of them local — to play the outdoor festival, which is also presented by Palo Alto's Teen Arts Council. In addition to the music, there will be food and a "Skateboard Jam" hosted by Skate Works in Los Altos.

Steffan, who has organized the event for the past two years, says the idea to put on a teen-oriented festival came to him when his own band, Reckless Flesh, had trouble finding local venues to play.

"I thought that it would be awesome to somehow find the best teenage bands in the Bay Area and be able to showcase them at an event where they would get a lot of exposure," he says. "As long as they're talented at what they do, I wanted to showcase the newest rising musicians in the area."

The four bands are The Neighbors from Menlo Park and Remi and Chloe from Palo Alto, which both play rock; Build the Empire from Hollister, which plays alternative rock; and Headcreep from San Jose, which plays grunge and punk music.

The musicians will bring a variety of sounds to the event. For instance, Remi and Chloe (two Palo Alto High School students who were profiled in the Weekly in March) have a bluesy, soulful style, mixing their original songs with such classics as "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay," while Headcreep has a more hard-edged approach — and a digital album out called "Enjoy Your Cancer," with songs such as "Don't Do Hugs," "Rotting" and "Playing With Guns."

The festival, Steffan says, is centered on the idea that teen bands can perform for people of all ages, which is not the case at age-restricted venues like bars.

"None of us are 21 so we can't really play those venues," he says. "You can go to San Jose, San Francisco or Berkeley to play, but the venues are really big."

He also sees the festival as an opportunity for teens and others to hear live performances, rather than be limited to online downloads and streaming.

"There aren't many chances to hear the local music, so I'm excited," says Jackson Sheppard, lead guitarist of The Neighbors and a senior at Menlo-Atherton High School. "Especially nowadays, the live music scene is definitely diminished. This gives a chance for bands to play and have people to listen to them."

This year, along with music, the festival will add something it didn't have last year: a "Skateboard Jam" hosted by Skate Works. There will be rails, boxes and ramps set up for any skateboarders to use, and there will be competitions between the band performances, Steffan says.

"As a skateboarder, I know that skateboarding and music go hand-in-hand," he says. Skateboarding could create "a whole new energy" for the festival.

Last year the event attracted between 200 and 250 people. This year, he expects more than 300.

What: The second annual Hurricane Music Festival features teen bands The Neighbors, Remi and Chloe, Build the Empire and Headcreep.

Where: Mitchell Park, 600 E. Meadow Drive, Palo Alto

When: 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7

Cost: Free

Info: For more, go to