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What good is rock n roll without a healthy dose of - teenage angst?
  • What good is rock n roll without a healthy dose of teenage angst?

Admit it: There was a time in your teenage life when you entertained rock-star ambitions.

Whether it meant getting friends together to jam in the parents' den, or rocking out solo in the car, we've all been there. But not many of us actually have done anything about it.

Enter the W.A.M. (What Art Means) Festival, which features a Battle of the Bands that gives high-schoolers a chance to plug in and compete.

Now in its second year, W.A.M. has the distinction of being by the students, for the students. Colorado Springs Conservatory students largely organize the festival, and more than 1,200 teens from across the state attended last year. With help from the good folks at KILO 94.3 FM, Conservatory Director Linda Weise acts as W.A.M.'s rudder and all-around cheerleader.

This year, dozens of bands submitted entries, but only 10 will duke it out for prizes, including up to $1,000 in college scholarship money. Entrants will come from Colorado Springs, as well as Woodland Park and Cotopaxi, with groupies and families in tow. Interspersed between the bands' sets will be performances by various acts, including local bands Leer43 and Nocturnal Tomatoes, as well as performances by African drummers, Peak Ballet, and Denver breakdancers. There's also an art show.

Last year's winners, Voodoo Blues Diner, served up fun and funky rock that was impressively professional; hearing the complex rhythms and seeing their ease on stage, it was easy to forget they were teenagers.

Equally impressive is Weise's embrace of all bands and genres. Considering that she's an opera singer who studied at Julliard, one might assume she would be more conservative in her musical tastes.

"[Some of the kids] are scary-looking, but they're beautiful, and you listen to their music, and you're so impressed with what you hear," she says. "But how many times do they hear that?

"I think if anything, it's empowering for them."


W.A.M. Festival

City Auditorium, 221 E. Kiowa St.

Friday, May 26, doors at 4 p.m.

Tickets: $5 at the door; call 577-4556 for more info.

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