Forget classical tunes and marching bands. Telluride's Rock and Roll Academy teaches children to play—and fall in love—with music as if they were rock stars themselves.
Audience members start to clap and hoot and whistle, and tonight it's clearly a family crowd. Pairs of parents. Clumps of teenagers. Little kids kneeling on their seats in order to see better. The first five rows of seats have been removed to allow the more courageous band members to dive into the ad hoc mosh pit—but only if they've followed Galbo's rule, which is to arrange ahead of time for someone to catch them.
The crowd is loud and enthusiastic, but, alas, not as loud and enthusiastic as it probably could be. About a third of the seats are empty, and the mosh pit isn't jammed with screaming, standing-room-only fans as Juxtapoze hoped it would be. Instead, there are only about seven kids standing on the hardwood floor in front of the stage. It appears events related to the Jeep ski tour have succeeded in stealing the audience.
You'd never know it looking at Galbo. He introduces each band with manic enthusiasm. "Let's give it up for Ordinary Chaos! Twisted Nation! Formula Forty! Lane Smith! SARZ! Pink Slip! The Beatless! Red Wolf! Grenade! And Jux-ta-POZE!" Each band, in turn, takes the stage to boom out songs like "Cat Scratch Fever" and "Born to be Wild." A seven-year-old guitar player gets a blister on his thumb, and Galbo has to escort him from the stage. A teenage head-banger whips his long blond hair like a character in some video game. The webmaster who's recording the show for a live webcast confesses this is the strangest thing he's ever seen. But through it all the crowd does, indeed, give it up.
Perhaps more importantly, the musicians themselves do, especially the gals from Juxtapoze. Appearing next to last, the four girls take the stage with smiles they can barely contain. They decided ahead of time not to wear anything special, because they think matching clothes are kind of weird and they'd never be able to agree on what to wear anyway. So they perform in their normal everyday clothes, but they don't give a normal everyday performance.
During dress rehearsal earlier today, Marina's guitar somehow became unplugged from the amp, Frances was drumming too fast, and Jacqueline was having a hard time timing her lyrics. Mustering all the bravado they could, they kept playing, just as Galbo trained them to. But the calamities in rehearsal made them nervous for tonight's performance.
Watching them now, you'd never know it. You can clearly hear every word Jacqueline sings—and she remembers all of them. Marina nails the guitar part on "City of Blinding Light," switching between pick and finger seemingly at ease. Renny jumps from keyboards to vocals to bass, always in time, always in tune. And Frances, after Galbo once again adjusts the seat for her, drums under the blue and yellow lights as if she were the one who invented drumming thousands of years ago. The band, simply, is really, really good.
And as you listen, you think of something Galbo said the other night: "Kids are ready to do something magnificent every day."
Sure, it would have been nice to have had the killer crowd. The Hollywood ending would have thousands of people on their feet cheering for Juxtapoze, but this is the music business and some gigs are just better than others. After the buzz of performing, the girls will go back to their lives, to school, to the drama of being a teenager. And, like other dedicated musicians, they'll go back to their instruments and begin preparing for the next gig.