Open Box Policy, a New Port Richey-based pop-punk revival band, performed this year at at the Rockus Maximus Music Festival. The group, which won first place at last year's festival, was beaten by Orange Gravity in the live show. DAYLINA MILLER/STAFF
SHADY HILLS — For weeks, library employees, volunteers and teenage patrons pumped up Pasco communities in anticipation of one of the Pasco Library System’s largest events, the Rockus Maximus Music Festival on Friday, March 28 For the 17th year, young adults and teenagers around the Suncoast got the opportunity to showcase their musical skills and on-stage personalities with a free, live performance chance to win cash prizes and recording time. Over the course of five hours, more than 500 people floated around the Rotary Pavilion at the Concourse to watch seven bands, a couple soloists and a rap artist perform. The bands, which had to have half or more of their members be 21 or younger, competed against one another for $1,000 cash, 10 hours of free recording time at Clear Track Recording Studio and a professionally recorded music video. One band, the Holiday-based Bane of Kings, also won $500 in an online promotion contest among the bands.
“We are personally glad that the music scene in Tampa and around the nation cares enough about local bands to help support bands that are just starting by taking time out of there day to sent us a vote or two,” Bane of Kings said in a Facebook message. “The experience was fantastic, well organized, and is generally one of the best battle of the band experiences that we have ever experienced. You can count on us next year to be there.” The annual event is sponsored by the Pasco County Library Cooperative and organized by teen services manager Paul Stonebridge, various Pasco teen services librarians and library youth. While admission to the concert is free, the libraries use it as a fundraiser to help pay for teen programs in the coming year. This year, the music festival raised $546 from the sale ofT-shirts and hoodies, as well as donations. This will be used to fund various programs, which could include anime club activities, teen gaming night, a robotics club, LAMEcon, a nonprofit, free, two-day anime convention held each year in August at the Land O’ Lakes Library. Stonebridge was thrilled that despite thunderstorms early Friday afternoon and a tumultuous forecast for the weekend, the rain avoided the concert so outdoor activities like the LED fire dancers, martial arts demonstrators and jugglers were uninterrupted. “We had a great turn-out and all the bands played their hearts out,” Stonebridge said. “The rain even stayed away so all our outdoor activities went off without a hitch.” Two other West Pasco bands performed at the concert, New Port Richey-based “Open Box Policy,” who won the $1,000 grand prize last year at the 16th annual music festival and “Alive After Tomorrow.” This year’s winner, “Orange Gravity,” a quirky multigenre band that dabbles in rock, psychedelic and grunge sounds, is from Largo. The other three bands were “Fire Alarm Fire,” “Saved by Friday,” and “Small Monuments,” all from Tampa. The organizers are already planning next year’s festivities and bands can begin applying to participate in November. You can follow Daylina Miller on Twitter at @DaylinaMiller..