Every high school has a band or two. And by “band,” I mean a group of friends who recently learned to play an instrument and enjoy an occasional “jam sesh.” Maybe they play out of a garage, at a school dance or at talent shows. Oh, and one other thing these bands have in common: they’re usually terrible. A lively interpretation of “Stairway to Heaven” can be interesting, but doesn’t save them from sucking.
But every now and then, the planets align, allowing a band of high schoolers to form that actually sounds really good. Visibly Shaken is one such band. The members include teens Luke Broadbent and Tristan Rucynski–who both play lead and rhythm guitar as well as sing–Noa Castleton on drums and Evan Phillips on bass. Rucynski and Phillips go to Kihei Charter School while Broadbent and Castleton attend St. Anthony.
The young’uns started playing at the tender age of 12 when Broadbent, Rucynski and Castleton picked up instruments and started to jam together. The three admit that, in the beginning, the band painfully lacked talent. It wasn’t surprising, considering that they lacked a singer and bassist. Things weren’t looking good, but then Phillips joined on bass and Broadbent and Rucynski started singing. Now, after a few years of honing their sound, Visibly Shaken truly rocks.
Visibly Shaken’s sound is a “weird collision of different genres,” says Broadbent, with “lots of ska and punk influences.” They’re a rock group first and foremost, influenced by bands like Nirvana, Pixies and Kings of Leon.
You can find them playing in front of Giannotto’s during Wailuku First Fridays, at local restaurants or at private parties. But the first time I saw them play was at the Seabury Hall Craft Fair in May.
As I sat on the grass facing the stage eating some bomb short ribs, I was immediately impressed. They clearly possessed talent far beyond their years, as well as great taste in music (they covered songs by the Arctic Monkeys, The Strokes and The Clash).
So the next time I attended the Wailuku First Friday town party, I sought them out at Giannotto’s. There, an audience gathered in front of Visibly Shaken was a testament to the band’s growing appeal. The table closest to the band held a group of teenage girls, with the band’s moms holding court at another nearby table. All around, people of a variety of ages wandered from the Market Street festivities and stopped to listen.
They say their favorite gig was at Stella Blues, where they played with Vince Esquire, Shawn Michael and Cloris Leachman’s son. “[It was] just straight up adrenaline and literal awesomeness,” emailed the group, which is still attending high school so they can get away with saying stuff like that.
They have nine original songs (also awesome), and they spent a weekend this month recording them at W.A.M.! Studios, owned by Ola Shaw of The Throwdowns (they should release the album near the end of summer). They’ve played two recorded shows at Mana’o, which you can listen to on their website (visiblyshakenmaui.webs.com).
You can still catch these guys before they make it big (and before school’s back in session) on July 28 at Three’s Bar & Grill in Kihei. $5. July 28, 9-10:30pm. Three’s Bar & Grill (1945 S. Kihei Rd.); 808-879-3133; threesbarandgrill.com; facebook.com/VisiblyShaken