Imagine having a band, going out on tour and playing gigs at notable venues around the country -- all when you’re just 16 years old. That’s what Kristin Kuüntz is doing this summer, along with four other teens from Chicago -- David Matthews, 16; James Mach, 15; Algren Rogers, 15; and Luke Sangerman, 14; who are part of the School of Rock’s elite national Allstars team. The Allstars, musically gifted kids who are all 18 or younger, will be playing at Schubas with the SOR’s own local Show Team and sharing the stage with Scott Lucas of Local H this Saturday, a stop on their 22-date summer “Rock the House” tour.
For kids passionate about music School of Rock’s music programs gives its students--comprised mostly of kids ages seven to 18—the necessary prep tools for a career in the industry. While there are a slew of opportunities at every School of Rock outpost around the country, like private music lessons, structured group rehearsals and instruction on how-to perform in a rock concert environment, the goal of many of the young rockers is to make the competitive Allstars team and tour the country.
Chicago native Kristin Kuüntz has been in School of Rock for five years and is touring for the first time this year. “It’s actually been the best thing that’s ever happened to me because we all get to play music with a band,” Kuüntz, guitarist and vocalist, said. "It’s not just learning on your own, you learn together and you learn how to play in a band and we get to play all of these shows at awesome places like Schubas.”
While A&R execs may not be scouting the show in Chicago just yet, the kids have had some specials guest pop in and share the stage with them, like Clutch drummer Jean-Paul Gaster and current Morrissey drummer Matt Walker. Other famous musicians have toured the Chicago chapter such as David Bowie guitarist Earl Slick, bassist/guitarist Twiggy from Marilyn Manson and Ike Willis who played with Frank Zappa.
But perhaps what’s getting the kids super psyched for this weekend’s gig is the opportunity to play with Local H vocalist Scott Lucas. This will be the first time that the singer has worked with the kids from School of Rock.
“I’ve talked to them [School of Rock] and it definitely interests me,” Lucas said. “We’ve always kicked around ideas back and forth, but nothing has ever really managed to gel. So this is nice that we can at least do something.”
General Manager of School of Rock Chicago, Amy Mareing, said that after leaving School of Rock, many kids go on to pursue professional careers as musicians.
“We’ve had a few students leave to go to Berklee College of Music. Almost every single one of our [local] Show Team graduates from here and they go on to do music programs in school.” Some even start their own bands, like 14-year-old drummer Luke Sangerman did. His band The Fancy Boys just played Wicker Park Fest last weekend.
But it’s not all about rocking the stage. It’s about kids helping other kids. Proceeds from School of Rock tour ticket sales go Ronald McDonald House Charities. School of Rock CEO Chris Catalano said that the pairing fits perfectly. “It’s not another golf tournament or a dinner. This is a concert with great rock music, “ he said. “I love this idea [of] kids helping kids with skills they learned through our system and it sort of is that essence of, rocking in life beyond just on stage that really motivated us to make this tour happen in this way.”
Although a finalized setlist for Saturday’s show hasn’t been released, the tour’s theme, “Rock of the Decades” celebrates 50 years of rock ‘n’ roll. It could run the gamut from Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” to My Chemical Romance’s “Helena.” Plus, of course, some Local H jams from Lucas, which the kids are looking forward to.
In addition to the Saturday show at Schubas Tavern, the Allstars “Rock The House” tour will also make a stop in Lisle at The Lodge.
The Chicago tour stop at Schubas will be Saturday from 2-5:30 p.m.; $20. Purchase tickets.
3159 N. Southport Ave.; 773-525-2508
The Lisle tour stop at The Lodge will be Friday from 5-9 p.m.; $20. Purchase tickets.
5750 Lakeside Drive, Lisle; 630-724-0450