NEW PORT RICHEY — In the middle of what’s normally the Regency Park Branch Library’s “Children’s Room,” under huge, fluorescent decorative fish, Ashley Spillius belts out the lyrics to one of several original songs performed by her band, Bane of Kings.
Nearby, in red and black checkered skinny jeans and a panda hat, 17-year-old Victoria Barfield glances up from her phone, startled by Ashley’s guttural screams into the microphone. Entranced, she watches the rest of the performance, ignoring the distraction of text messages and Facebook notifications.
“She’s amazing, but she scared me at first,” Victoria said to her friend, 16-year-old Storm Summers.
Bane of Kings’ performance was one of four bands that performed last Friday night at a “Rockus Maximus” promo show at Regency Park, meant to jazz up local teens and the community for the big concert on March 28 at the Rotary Pavilion on S.R. 52. The final four bands will hit the makeshift stage at the library at 6 p.m. on Feb. 28 for one more promo show.
“Rockus Maximus: Battle of the Bands” is an annual event and fundraiser organized by teens and youth librarians with the Pasco County Library System. This is the 17th year that teens and young adults in the tri-county area will be given the opportunity to showcase their musical skills and compete for cash and prizes. At least half of band members have to be age 21 or under, with a minimum of two band members, and have a card at any Florida library.
Paul Stonebridge, teen services manager for the Pasco County Library Cooperative, wants to draw in teens and their families for a free night of music and entertainment. You also never know who you see perform that will become a world-famous band later on.
“It’s their chance to see them before they’re big,” Stonebridge said. “You can say ‘I saw them when there were only 300 people at the concert.’ ”
Bane of Kings has already amassed more than 10,000 Facebook fans and has a hardcore support group in the community. Performing at the concert brings in more fans and helps them put out professionally-recorded albums.
Last year’s winner, New Port Richey-based Open Box Policy, won $1,000 cash and 10 hours of free recording time at Clear Track Recording Studio. This year’s winner gets the cash, the recording time and for the first time, a professionally recorded music video.
More than 400 attendees showed up for last year’s free concert. Stonebridge hopes to increase that number this year by adding several new components to the event. Attendees can expect a fire dancer show, a martial arts performance and a juggling demonstration to align with this year’s theme, “Sonic Sideshow.”
“It’ll be like a mini-carnival with music, food, gaming and entertainment,” Stonebridge said. “We want to have all this random entertainment like you’d see at a carnival sideshow.”
All eight bands will perform 6-11 p.m. March 28 at the Rotary Pavilion 15325 Alric Pottberg Road, Shady Hills. The sale of snacks and drinks will benefit the youth programs for the library system. For more information see the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/rockusmaximus17.
You can follow Daylina Miller on Twitter at @DaylinaMiller.