Kent Stage’s “Debacle” successfully reunites Kent’s ‘80s music scene

Max Hayden

With the lights turned low, it was hard to tell if the year was 2010 or 1980. A certain buzz filled the air as the rows of seats filled with everyone from old age punk rockers to toddlers bouncing up and down in their seats. Voices carried throughout the venue as each person recalled memories from their past or eagerly talked about what act was coming up next. But the voices soon died and were replaced by the loud volume of guitars and drums and one-by-one each person in the room was transported back 30 years.

For two nights, The Kent Stage on Main Street hosted a 17-band show entitled “The Debacle.” The goal was to bring back many of the bands from the 1980s that helped shape the local music scene. Back then, shows at such music venues as Akron’s The Bank and Kent’s Mother’s Junction and J.B.’s were often packed, with people coming out to support the music and the community.

When music wasn’t being played, you could find many of the band members and their friends and family crammed together in the lobby of The Kent Stage. Filled to its corners in Debacle merchandise and old memorabilia from the past, the lobby seemed as busy as the light show on stage. Seeming to be reminiscent of the old venues that many of the bands referenced on stage, swarms of people scurried through congratulating and praising each of the bands. Quotes such as “just as good as you were back then” and “I could barely tell a difference” were overheard frequently.

“Every band sounded great considering most of them haven’t played together in years,” said Steven Taylor, singer of Joy Circuit. “The crowds were also amazing; we even received a standing ovation, which I wasn’t expecting.”

The diversity of the crowd is what made the event so special and unexpected. Organizers knew they would see an older crowd, but were not expecting so many teens and kids to arrive. A significant portion of the crowd was below the age of 30 and showed up just from hearing about all the history and music surrounding the concert, getting a sneak peek into a possible future for them.

“It’s interesting to see all the older people acting like they never grew up,” said 21-year-old Danny Wlosowicz. “I wonder if some of the bands I listen to now will be doing something like this 30 years from now.”

Taylor, with the rest of the members of Joy Circuit played Saturday night alongside The Pets/Sidewalks, Two Words Collide, The Nelsons, The Clinic, Bongo’s Jungle Party, The Somatics, In Fear of Roses and 0-DFX. Friday night’s lineup included Tribute to Ignition, 2 Wide 4 Lipps, Vinyl Back, Unreal McCoys, Germ Free Adolescents, Subterraneans, The Bizarros and The Attitude.

The two days ended on a high note in a large group finale when members from different bands flooded the stage with 0-DFX to end the night in a big sing-along,

But with the conclusion of the two-day festival, many people are already looking towards the future.

“We’re going to be doing a full-blown reunion show around Christmas time,” Taylor said. “This whole event is really fun and very surprising.”

While Joy Circuit already has plans for a follow-up performance, many others are having similar thoughts. Organizers are talking about making the event a yearly tradition, answering the question on whether or not this year’s Debacle was a success.

So while many of the bands remained inactive throughout the last couple of decades, The Debacle undoubtedly proved to everyone in attendance that good music will never die.

Contact Max Hayden at [email protected].