While the Diamondbacks were battling the Oakland A’s a couple of weeks ago, a different sort of battle was going on next door at Alice Cooperstown. More than a dozen youth-rock bands fought it out for the right to perform in the Rock n’ Roll High School “Plugged In” concert at Chandler Center for the Arts on Sept. 12.
One of the competing ensembles—and the event’s ultimate winner—was ViceVersa, consisting of six students, five girls and one wise boy, all of whom are seniors at Corona del Sol High School: Jordan Dragon, Nikki Hinshaw, Savannah Johnston, Bailee McCook, Mackenzie Tanquary and Sabastian Molina. They’ve been playing together about a year, having landed gigs at local venues, a favorite being SoZo Coffeehouse.
“I would say we’re kind of pop rock or alternative,” says bassist and songwriter Johnston of the group’s style. Johnston cites Lorde and British electronic act Shura as her own influences.
“We’re considered alternative,” echoes McCook.
The Cooperstown show was the second of two auditions—the first was held on Aug. 22 at Hard Rock Café. Like the other acts, ViceVersa played a mini-set of two numbers—one cover and one original. They performed alt-J’s “Left Hand Free” as their cover, and a song of their own, “Deep Blue,” as their original.
The result was…success.
“We were chosen as one of the top eight bands,” says ViceVersa drummer Nikki Hinshaw.
“There was a little technical difficulty,” notes Johnston, arising from ViceVersa’s ambitiousness.
“We had four mics, and every other band had two or less.” Despite this extra challenge for the sound guy at Cooperstown, however, says Johnston, “We got the job done.”
Thus, along with groups with names like Ironkill, Vintage Wednesday, Total Disarray, Zero Degrees North, People Who Could Fly, Cosmicosby and JAB, and soloists like Keli Rutledge, Sydney Claire Collins and JAM, ViceVersa will take the stage at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, at Chandler Center for the Arts. It’s a paid gig, and the winning acts will be digitized by Green River Recording.
This could be a good launch-pad for ViceVersa, but the members seem down to earth about the challenges of a long-term music career.
“It’s definitely fun right now,” admits McCook—”and I think I’d like to do something with it. But I think I’d like to be a teacher.”
Even Johnston, a creative force behind ViceVersa’s original music, is cautious when talking about her future.
“Totally,” she says, when asked if she’d like to pursue a career in music. But she goes on to add:
“I think that, being realistic, it’s not a very stable career.” So she hopes to go to UCLA to study engineering, still with an eye possibly to working in the music industry in L.A. or Austin.
Whether ViceVersa ascends to fame and fortune and MTV play and Grammys, the members will still have the Chandler Center show to remember. And even without that, they’ll still have their triumph at Cooperstown.
“It was a really cool venue,” says Hinshaw, “and we had a lot of support from our fan base, which is mostly Corona students. It was great playing for our friends.”