In what has become a tradition following the event, a large crowd of adoring females had assembled after the show to get one last memory, be that a photo, an autograph or anything that would serve as a memento of their “greatest night ever.” That was the phrase I heard at least four times in seven minutes as the crown blissfully passed this veteran reporter who was standing on the corner of Lea and 4th Ave South.
Teen Hoot is concert/festival hybrid that happens twice a year. Young emerging talent from around the world compete for a coveted slot in the lineup. Fans come from all over the country to meet and watch young music talent perform. On the internet is a live stream of the show watched globally in over fifty countries.
For February’s Teen Hoot, legendary music producer and founder of Teen Hoot, David Malloy, brought in a new stable of talented young performers. The night was full of both symbolic and real signs that Teen Hoot has changed. Gone were the lasers, smoke machines, and staple artists. Instead, Hoot’s first 2013 show featured new artists, deeper original playlists, a surprise guest, and a moving ceremony that had almost everyone in tears.
I hung out backstage for a little bit to try to get a sense of the dynamics of how the new slate of talent would interact with one another. Within minutes they were talking as if they were lifelong friends. When one of the new performers mentioned this, I broke my silence and spoke a little with them. I stated that at every Teen Hoot the quick interaction emerges. This is because every person on stage or in the back room share one thing in common: they have each earned their right to play Teen Hoot.
The talent level has definitely reached new heights. One artist that really emerged ahead of the pack is Sara Skinner. She possesses a voice like Lana Del Ray, a writing style like Avril Lavigne, and a stage presence like Alanis Morissette in her prime. Few times do I tell a new emerging talent to follow their dream; the odds of making it, after all, are nearly astronomical. But with astronomy comes bright stars and I seriously think Sara Skinner will be a bright star in the future. I cannot stress enough that this is one artist that should be on everyone’s radar.
Another talent who is already on the radar of many after his performance on “X Factor” is Trevor Moran. His deep range and amazing pitch is amazing. Top that off with an amazing stage performance and you truly have a gifted individual. When every artist comes out from backstage and gives you a standing ovation….you got “it.” Trevor has it!
One of the benefits of covering Teen Hoot for two years is that I have the opportunity to watch raw talent emerge and grow. A perfect example of this is “Kalin and Myles.” These young men got a shot at Teen Hoot last year and while I had commented on their strong stage performance, I had some doubts about if they could become the full package and take it to the next level at the time. Well, as I was walking into the concert venue, I could hear loud and clear just how far I had underestimated this rising power duo. Literally! As anxious fans were waiting to enter the auditorium, an adoring female fan shouted out, “When I say Kalin, you say Myles!” and in unison for about a minute you could hear the crowd chant get louder and louder: “Kalin… Miles!” I truly believe that these young gentlemen will soon be headlining Teen Hoot.
The surprise of the night came when Peyton Sanders came out, not to sing but to introduce new acts. This was a great symbolic moment and an amazing gesture on Peyton’s part. It was the symbolic passing of the torch. Or in this case, the microphone. Peyton has been rapidly gaining the attention of in the music industry. Most notably, Peyton Sanders will be featured in an upcoming “Popstar Magazine.” He has even started to get endorsement deals. When I spoke with him backstage, I was really impressed by his patience and his ability not to rush into things. He could have probably signed with a dozen labels by now, but he hasn’t. He has been working hard, staying focused and growing his brand. So many times in this industry we see artists fall for bad deals, bad agents, bad contracts, and other bad repercussions because they were in such a rush to make it big. Peyton is a smart young man with smart people around him. He is also one of the most polite and respectful people I know.
The night ended on a truly touching note. Dylan Holland performed what might be his last set at Teen Hoot. Dylan Holland, a crowd favorite who has steadily grown both in popularity and as an artist over the last two years, has recently signed with a major talent company. During his performance he was surprised with an amazing guitar as a presented to Dylan from a parent of one of Dylan’s fans. The fan, Olivia Russell, has been a fan of Dylan’s from the beginning and her Father, Chip Russell, is the one that crafted the guitar. Their reason for the presentation was to recognize Dylan for his contributions to and what he has done for The Hoot. It was a bittersweet moment and there was not a dry eye in the house. Including mine. I have watched Dylan and have covered him as an artist for two years. As Teen Hoot has grown, so has he. The one thing that always struck me about Dylan is his maturity for such a young age. He is one of the most professional musicians I have ever met. His passion for his fans is second to none. I remember during one crazy rain storm he ran out to a group of waiting females and signed autographs and gave one a hug. I remember him coming back inside, soaking wet. He looked at his dad and sheepishly explained, “All the girl wanted was a hug. I had to do it.” That moment showed me personally who Dylan really is and why he will really succeed in life and in the business of making music.