Power chords reverberated from the studio at the Paul Green School of Rock Music in Highwood one recent Thursday evening as students held their final rehearsal before opening for Weezer.
“We were invited to open for the band and when we got that news we were all kind of flabbergasted and excited,” says Robin Koelsch, director of the School of Rock.
The student’s performed two Weezer covers before the iconic band’s Friday and Saturday night’s concerts at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. They also got backstage passes and were able to meet the band.
“I think I’m going to see if they can sign a shirt or my guitar. I don’t know, I just want to meet them and, like, shake their hands,” says Jonathan Fishman, a freshman at Highland Park High School.
Fishman also expressed why he was especially excited for this gig: “It’s not just some lame-o concert in front of our parents so they can see us perform, now we’re playing in front of Weezer and their most devoted fans. It’s like a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
The Aragon Ballroom at Lawrence and Broadway avenues in Chicago holds about 4,500 people. Opening for Weezer was likely to be the largest venue these students will ever play.
When asked how students at her middle school responded, eighth grader Chloé Tomkins says: “They think it’s really cool, well, the one’s who have heard of Weezer. I told the head of school and he brought it up at my morning meeting, and you could see the reactions on some kids faces and they were like, ‘Really cool, oh my gosh,’ and some were like, ‘What’s that?’ ”
Whether they had heard of Weezer before or not, the significance of this evening is not lost on the student musicians at the School of Rock who have been dutifully preparing at home and squeezing in extra rehearsals at the school.
Sam Klingher, a freshman at Deerfield High School, sang vocals for the song “Say It Ain’t So.”
“I’ve focused on stage presence,” Klingher says, “my vocal teacher Paul and I have focused on that especially and I have expanded on that at home. Hopefully I will do well in the show.”
Klingher also let Make It Better in on his signature moves: “I just like to rock on the mic, I do that a lot, rock on the mic to the beat.”
The students at the Highwood School of Rock not only look the part, but also back it up with serious musical chops. One only had to observe their rehearsal to see and hear that the weekend may not have been a once in a lifetime experience, but the beginning of a lifetime of experience rockin’ out.