Bringin’ it all back home


Adam Buhck, [email protected]

Trendy pop singles, electronica, and hip-hop dominate the charts every week. Rock and roll, it seems, has taken a back seat.

But Long Island collective Wake the Sun is out to prove the genre is still alive and kicking. The five-piece group will bring its unique approach to hard rock to Iowa City Oct. 5 with a free performance at Gabe’s, 330 E. Washington St., alongside acoustic act Here’s to the Life.

Wake the Sun is a fiery young act that got its start in 2014 when vocalist and rhythm guitarist Dillion Mealey and friend and bassist Jeff Alvarado, moved to Long Island after graduating from college. The two had played in bands together and were steadfast friends during college; both shared the lifelong dream of making music for a living. They filled out the lineup with temporary members until they found full-time keyboardist John Creighton and lead guitarist Tommy Perrotta through Internet ads, and thus, Wake the Sun was born.

For these guys, the decision to get into music came easily.

“I started playing music at a very early age,” Alvarado said. “At the age of 5, my parents had signed me up for piano lessons and had bought me a piano to rehearse at home. At the same time, I started playing guitar in school but didn’t really take it seriously until years later. When I was in junior high, a lot of my friends started listening to bands like Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, NOFX, and Rancid. Listening to them for the first time opened an entire new musical world for me and drew me to playing bass in many different styles.”

Wake the Sun is fiercely proud of its hard rock roots, the members said, and they try to show it in everything they do. Their sound is loud and gritty, hearkening back to rock and roll greats Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix. While these rock and roll giants may have helped shape Wake the Sun’s love for the genre, Mealey is careful to avoid saying the band was influenced by them.

“I think the word ‘influence’ is a delicate word,” he said. “Sometimes, when you think influence, you might think that that particular artist takes bits and pieces of another artist and imbues that in the music. I think a more appropriate word might be ‘inspire.’ In that sense, when we listen to certain artists, we don’t necessarily take from those artists particularly, but rather that sonic experience can inspire us to get the musical juices flowing. Artists new and old inspire us constantly and run a huge gamut of genres.”

Wake the Sun will be supported at this performance by solo acoustic artist Patrick Rivera, who performs under the name Here’s to the Life, derived from the MxPx song.

“The song is about getting lost in music and life, but then re-finding yourself,” Rivera said. “A lot of people think that playing in a band is all fun, games, and nothing but good times. Even though there are times like that, there is also a lot of hard work and failures that go into making it as a long-lasting musician.”

His songs present themselves with an honest and upbeat folk-punk sound that gets their message across without being overly complicated by excess production.

Rivera was introduced to punk rock by a high-school friend and quickly appreciated the genre, listing artists such as Tim Armstrong and Buddy Holly among his musical influences.

“Punk music has a certain type of energy that hits me more than any other genre of music that I’ve experienced, and that’s what I love about it,” he said.

At a more fundamental level, Here’s to the Life is influenced by the combined experiences of his own life, his close friends, and family. Friends and family are a stabilizing force that made it much easier for him to get through the tough times, and he wants to share that message with the audience.

“If people take anything home with them from my shows, I just hope that it’s positivity and friendship,” he said. “Life can get rough at times, and if you don’t have a positive outlook on life and good-hearted friends by your side, don’t expect to get very far in life. If I can at least touch one person at every show I play, then it’s a successful show for me.”

Wake the Sun & Here’s to the Life
When: 9 p.m. Oct. 5
Where: Gabe’s, 330 E. Washington

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