Academy passes peers' test

Stepping through the midnight-black curtain at the Ragtag Cinemacafé on Thursday night was like opening the door to a basement full of high school kids who think they are too cool for school.

The majority of the mismatched couches that the venue is known for were piled helter-skelter in the back of the room, and kids clad in Converse sneakers occupied the few remaining chairs. The sofas that lined the art-covered walls mostly contained parents, most of whom were nursing beers.

Carbon Brainchild, a band consisting of high school students, rocked out for its peers and parents.

The band originated from the club Academy of Rock, which brings together musicians from Hickman and Rock Bridge high schools. Academy of Rock was formed in 2004.

"The purpose is to network students who are passionate about music," sponsor Phil Overeem said. "The main reason is to give kids a place to go, meet people and forge alliances. Public schools are not good at promoting music other than European classics. We want to change that."

The club draws about 150 members per year.

"It's a really great thing. It gives opportunities to high schoolers that don't get to see concerts that often," Brainchild lead singer Alex Taylor said.

Not only do the students love the club, but their parents do, too.

"They all study classical music, too. So this is a nice way for them to experience other types of music," said Kristi Livingston, whose son is Brainchild bassist Cooper Livingston. "It's hard for bands just starting out to have opportunities. It's nice that the Ragtag lets them do this."

Ragtag Cinemacafé employee Steve Ruffie said the theater is more than happy to support local artists.

"The musicians need a chance to play in front of people and get paid," Ruffie said. "I would have liked to have this when I was younger."

The bands that perform receive half of what they make at the door. The band split $112 among the four members. It's more than they've ever made doing shows.

Carbon Brainchild has been together for two years, and its members don't let their nerves get the better of them when they perform.

"I start out nervous, but I enjoy the rush," Cooper Livingston said. "I mold with the crowd."

Taylor said he is stoked and excited when he performs. Guitarist Isaac Foley said he is more confident when he plays.

"I feel pretty sexy, to be honest," he said. "It feels really cool since I play the lead guitar."

The members agree that their main inspirations are the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Five Iron Frenzy, Coldplay and Weezer.

"We like to believe that we're an eclectic band," Taylor said.

These boys are not lacking in the fan department.

"I really like their music," Rock Bridge Senior Anna Neal said. "It's innovative. It's funky, and that's the kind of thing that I like."

Hickman senior Noah Myers said he thought the band was great at jamming, improvising and holding the crowd's attention.

"They were really lively and got everyone into it. They were awesome," Hickman junior Kristinia Tan said.

One thing this band does not lack is confidence.

"We're quirky, we're fun, and we play a great show," Cooper Livingston said. "We are the coolest thing to come out of a basement since asbestos."

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