According to Dave Rich, his dream concert would go something like this.
The Beyonderers – Akron’s three-piece band of extraterrestrial surf-thrashers, consisting of Dave on guitar, his brother Andrew Rich on bass and Anne Lillis on drums – tinker through soundcheck on the plane of a flying saucer cast from impossible metals hovering just above the oblong heads of gray aliens clutching cans of Schlitz. Standing front row are Davey’s Boys: Michael Keaton, Dennis Quaid, Kurt Russell, Mark Ruffalo, Bradley Whitford and Steve Buscemi, who’s sipping an umbrella-topped mixed drink concocted by the bartenders at the Tiki Underground stand nearby. The original cast of Degrassi Junior High is scattered throughout the crowd. Winona Ryder circa Reality Bites is around here somewhere, wearing a tinfoil hat that keeps picking up Martian dust-squall bulletins and pirate radio DJs blathering about fretboard patterns gashed into midwestern cornfields.
This is a festival, of course, and the lineup poster reads as follows:
T H E B E Y O N D E R E R S
Thin Lizzy / The Clash / Jimmy Buffet / Megadeth / Run DMC
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / Replacements (’87) / The Ramones
Nas / Warren Zevon / Sam and Dave / Death / Guided by Voices (6 hour set!) /
Yo La Tengo / The Max Rebo Band / Devo / The Bizarros / The Shadows / The Surf Coasters / Man or Astroman? / Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet / Nuclear Blast / Aimee Mann / Testament / Party of Helicopters / Emitt Rhodes / Buddy Guy / Danny Gatton
Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem
The lineup was compiled by Dave with the help of resurrection spells — things get metaphysical out here in the desert sprawl near Area 51 — to bring Phil Lynott and all other deceased performers back to life and peak musicianship.
I may have embellished here. Aliens don’t drink Schlitz. Their taste receptors aren’t complex enough to enjoy such an ambrosial beverage.
For the most part, though, this is my best depiction of what Dave tells me would be his ultimate celebratory concert experience. And he has good reason to celebrate.
The Beyonderers recently won the first-ever Akron Music Award, an honor created by Chris Butler, formerly of Akron-based bands Tin Huey and The Waitresses. The award show, which included a live set from The Beyonderers (sans spacecraft stage) took place at Musica on March 7. The award comes with a stipend that will be used to help fund the band’s future endeavors.
“We got an email out of nowhere telling us that [Chris Butler] had created a new award and we won,” Dave says.
“A lot of times when awards are involved, they come with nominations that then force bands to go out and mobilize their friends and family. Like, ‘Whoever gets the most votes in two weeks through our website gets the win!’ I think that stuff is pretty gross. People should make art because they have to, not because they’re looking to get rewarded somehow. The creation and release is the reward, or should be. I like the idea that people do their thing regardless of marketability or popularity and have a chance to be surprised by [Chris Butler] recognizing them.”
This response is unsurprising coming from a member of the Beyonderers. This seems like a band that will be crashing through its unique (read: highly niche and unsuitable to mass-market priorities) set of UFO conspiracy-themed surf-rock jams decades from now regardless of any music-biz success or probable lack thereof.
They’re the epitome of DIY, and I don’t think it’s far-fetched to submit that a DIY rock band is quintessentially Akron. Yes, they play music that’s reminiscent of California beach parties circa the early ‘60s. But, in the hybrid sound-world of The Beyonderers, there’s iridescent globs of radioactive goo sloshing across those beaches. And there’s no question it’s extraterrestrial in origin.
Kyle Cochrun is a writer and turntablist from Akron, Ohio. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.