Local bands reunite after three decades

Kaysea Thomas

The ‘80s were a peak decade for the Kent music scene; live music at local venues brought in large crowds almost every night. Now, 30 years later, 17 of these local bands are reuniting to play Sept. 24 and 25 at the Kent Stage, an event that has been dubbed the Debacle Concert.

One of the original coordinators was Kent State alumnus Mick Hurray.

“There was so many bands playing back then,” Hurray said, “and it comes around to 2010, and we’re thinking, ‘Where are they now? What are they doing? Can we actually get a hold of some of these people and put it back together?’ And that brings us to the bands that are on the (Debacle) bill now.”

Out of the 17 bands booked to play the Debacle, 11 contain at least one Kent State alumni.

Kent State alumnus James Coufalik plays drums in the band Germ Free Adolescents and took on a managerial role in preparing for the Debacle concert. Coufalik, who used to live and hold band practice in an apartment above what is now Taco Tontos, remembers what the Kent music scene was like during his college years in the ‘80s.

“It was a different time,” Coufalik said. “Bands everywhere doing all kinds of great stuff. It was a very dynamic era in Kent.”

Hurray recalled three main venues that ruled the Kent scene: The Bank, Mother’s Junction and JB’s. Of the three, only JB’s survives. Arguably the most popular Kent venue of the 80s, Mother’s Junction, casually known as Mother’s, used to exist on the second level of what is now Ray’s Place.

“That place would rock the roof,” Coufalik said. “The bands that played up there were just great. It would be packed.”

George Shiner of the band The Attitude recalls playing a packed show at Mother’s.

“We actually had people down the stairs, at the door just standing there and listening,” Shiner said.

Some of the Debacle bands played in smaller locations as well, such as the Student Center. Coufalik mentioned playing at the university with Germ Free Adolescents.

“We were cranking it up, and we basically got shut down because we were so loud,” Coufalik said.

For months, Debacle coordinators have been tracking down members of the more prevalent local bands.

“A lot of people are in different parts of the country and that makes this a little more of a difficult proposition,” Hurray said. “In fact, I played in three of the bands on the list, and I’m going to have a couple people from out of town stay at my house.”

Coming from Connecticut to California and almost everywhere in between, musicians who have dabbled in all professions — from advertising to monkhood — are coming back to Kent to play the Debacle Concert.

“You always hear about bands coming back for a reunion tour,” Shiner explained. “This is basically a whole scene of bands coming back for a reunion.”

The show will begin at 7:30 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday. Admission is $5 per night. For more information, visit www.kentstage.org or www.myspace.com/thedebacle.

Contact Kaysea Thomas at [email protected].