Fridays After Five - The Kings of Belmont
In most cases, appointing yourself as monarch of anything is probably cruisin' for a bruisin', but given that there aren't too many rock bands rehearsing on Meridian Street, the Kings of Belmont are probably okay for the time being.
This may be a rags-to-riches story in the making, though– the kings have certainly come a long way since their humble beginnings down at the late Atomic Burrito. Guitarist Ross van Brocklin and keyboard player Aaron Ahlbrandt had known each other since their middle school days and started performing together as a duo with a drum machine near the end of 2006. Hard as it is to believe, their other gig as members of the local Ween tribute band apparently wasn't artistically fulfilling.
As a Serious Band, though, they were off to a rocky start. "It was definitely just as much comedic as it was musical," says van Brocklin. With a few months and a little buzz under their belt, however, they were able to pick up several other musicians and began crafting something more compelling starting in early 2007.
Guitarist Max Collins still remembers what it was like when van Brocklin and Ahlbrandt first attracted his attention. "I knew there were some seeds," he says, "and even though some of it was lighthearted, there was something really deep there."
It seems to have been enough to motivate all of them. "The key to our local success over the course of the last eight months has been the fact that we're practicing three or four nights a week and being ready for our shows," says Collins. "Seeing Kings of Belmont a year and a half ago, it's a completely transformed version."
"I haven't heard one person complain about showing up to practice, which is really helping us out," he adds.
Despite all that rehearsal time, they haven't yet entirely figured out how exactly they fit into the Fridays After Five schema of family-friendly afternoon entertainment, given that their late night shows still don't stray too far from the risque humor of their Atomic roots.
"We're going to have some people get the wrong impression, maybe, but if they get the CD they'll put it together," says Collins.
"We just got Parental Advisory stickers for them," he adds with a laugh.
"If we talk too much, we'll get in trouble," van Brocklin says.
Still, Fridays After Five has always been a landmark gig for any Charlottesville band with big dreams. "A lot of people are going to be seeing us for the first time. I feel like we have something to prove," Collins says.
van Brocklin is also starting to find new fans for the taking elsewhere, including at one particularly fruitful recent show at R2. "There were a bunch of people there before we started, and I didn't recognize any of them," he says.
"That's a great feeling, having people you don't recognize in the front row singing the words," Collins says.
In time, they may live up to the name. But Collins doesn't seem to be in a hurry: "We'll always play at least one Ween tune per show," he says.
The Kings Of Belmont perform with 6 Day Bender at Fridays After Five this week at the Charlottesville Pavilion starting at 5:30p