FridaysUpdate: It's good to be Kings (of Belmont)

kob_1Local rock gig The Kings of Belmont.

Local rockers The Kings of Belmont are a band for the true Charlottesville townie. Just look at the lineup– the five members have strong roots to town, all born and raised in C'ville's diverse music scene.

"We're a C'ville band," drummer John Spagnolo says. "We're townies, we haven't broken into the student scene, we don't get mixed up in playing the Corner or frats."

Although their previous Fridays After Five performance was dubbed a co-bill, with the Kings sharing the stage with local band 6 Day Bender, this time around KOB will have full reign of the Pavilion. Which is good because according to guitarist Max Collins, having only a few hours to perform is just a warmup for this raucous band. "We usually play for three hours straight, with no breaks," he says.

Today's incarnation of the band is a mix between two separate, yet interconnected acts that emerged in 2006: a two-man band composed of guitarist Ross van Brocklin and keyboardist Aaron Ahlbrandt and the Ween tribute band, Peen, that four of the five current members had played in from time to time.

In early 2007, the five locals joined together under the moniker The Kings of Belmont– symbolic of their practice pad in Belmont and a long-running joke between van Brocklin and Ahlbrandt– and began honing their skills as a serious contribution to the local music community.

"When we started as Peen, we were a very green band– we learned a lot about each other through the process," van Brocklin says.

"When we started KOB, one thing that I was surprised with was how quickly we got better and better," Collins continues, "proportional to the time we were practicing."

While Charlottesville may have its hands full with rockers, KOB insists its brand of rock'n'roll stays true to the traditional line of development modern rock has gone through. From biting, pop culture-laden satire to blues-inspired, softer ballads, KOB likes nothing more than the element of surprise.

"What is rock? I look back at blues stuff, which is really a derivation of bluegrass stuff, celtic tunes." Collins says. "We try and cover all genres."

But will an intense stage presence and occasionally PG lyrics translate to a successful Fridays After Five gig? These "weekend warriors" admit they make little effort to sell CDs, aren't trying to get signed, and are content to jam when they can.

"In the fall, we're going to slow down a little bit on playing live stuff," Collins says. "It's great to be able to go out and travel, but it's hard also when everyone has their own lives in Charlottesville."

The Kings of Belmont play Fridays After Five on 5/15. Earl Knox opens. Show starts at 5:30 pm and admission is free.


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