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"X-Fest musicians put out own heat"

You know you've stumbled upon a uniquely Modesto event when a bevy of uninhibited women are gyrating around Sir Mix-A-Lot as Queen Elizabeth I looks on in 101-degree heat.

"I have not seen that energetic a performance in quite some time," said Queen Elizabeth, aka Deirdre Sargent of the Northern California Renaissance Faire troupe. "Nor have I seen so many bare body bits."

The sweaty melting pot known as X-Fest was indeed energetic. The Saturday event offered eager festivalgoers a smorgasbord of some 40 bands playing for seven hours on six outdoor stages in downtown Modesto.

As the music kicked off at 5 p.m., people meandered in and sought the shade. Modesto rock act Fissure, opening act on the Renaissance Faire Stage, drew well early on.

But the late afternoon sun was still too much for the self-proclaimed Disco 911 World's Largest Outdoor Disco Stage. Only four people looked on.

Having made it past security and its stricter antigang dress code, Robert Pick sported a white tank top with the words "I am not in a gang" scrawled in pen on the back. He said the slogan was a joke, written in lieu of a signature by a member of Fissure.

The Renaissance Faire Stage, though decorated in flower garlands and wreaths, played host to the day's hardest-rocking acts — including Fissure, with a hard sound tempered by, of all things, a cello.

In the audience, Renaissance re-enactors dressed as nobles, knights and jesters mingled with people in baseball caps and flip-flops.

On the Pirate's Cove Stage, B93.1 FM DJ Dave Mazzy introduced area favorite Megan Slankard to the crowd and especially her "male groupies." As one of the few female-fronted acts in the night's lineup, Slankard was reliably excellent despite the pounding sun's effect on her acoustic guitar.

"My guitar is pouting," she said, stopping to retune.

Crowd likes him a lot

But it wasn't until rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot took the Renaissance Faire Stage in the early evening that the audience really swelled, stretching along 10th and H streets.

With Queen Elizabeth and her royal court in attendance, the Grammy-winning hip-hop artist crowned his crowd-pleasing performance with his posterior-praising smash "Baby Got Back." More than 20 women went on stage to bump and grind as the 21-and-over crowd cheered wildly.

At the same time, on the Fire and Ice Stage, Modesto's own Grandaddy Time Machine wowed a considerably less "Girls Gone Wild" crowd.

Three members of the internationally recognized band Grandaddy — singer Jason Lytle, drummer Aaron Burtch and bassist Kevin Garcia — played a mix of "time machine" songs and Beach Boys covers, including "Fun, Fun, Fun" and "I Get Around." A dozen beach balls were tossed into the crowd and batted about as Lytle put his spin on Brian Wilson's falsetto harmonies.

Before breaking into the vault to play a 12-year-old Grandaddy song, Lytle said, "There is no way I would play this song anywhere but Modesto. It's too embarrassing," which could be taken as a compliment or not, depending on your perspective.

Modesto indie impresario Mike Cloward handled the bookings for the Fire and Ice Stage, and the program included strong performances by The Teeth and Earlimart.

This year, X-Fest had two indie stages. Both attracted dedicated fans, but the diverse crowd seemed more interested in finding the shortest beer line than discovering new and talented underground bands.

By the time the night's headliners went on in the late evening, the asphalt had cooled to bearable. Low Millions lead singer Adam Cohen proved that rock stardom is all in the hips as he danced his way through the group's well-crafted pop songs.

"This is only our second time in Modesto and look at this," Cohen said pointing to the sea of humanity. "This is flipping amazing."

Music until midnight

The streets stayed packed for Dishwalla. Those only familiar with the rock band's sensitive single "Counting Blue Cars" from 1996 were probably surprised by its hard, booming sound.

At the same time, with less fanfare, Latin-rock legend Tierra put a crowd that rivaled Dishwalla's into a laid-back groove on the Motown Revue Stage.

After 11 p.m. on the Renaissance Fair Stage, Nathan Penrose, lead singer of popular Modesto alt-rock act Transport, acknowledged the stiff competition he faced from the now jammed Disco 911 stage, and countered by throwing CDs into the crowd.

When Transport finished at 12:01 a.m., folks were headed for the exits.

"Thanks for sticking around," Penrose said. "Be careful getting home."

- By MARIJKE ROWLAND - Modesto Bee Newspaper

"Quote 1"

...taking the Central Valley by storm.
- Mazzy - B93.1 Modesto Based Radio Station

"This debut EP commands attention from start to finish"

œDefinitely a break of refreshing air from poppy sing along rock; with powerful ballads, hypnotic keyboard work, raw electric backbone and clear cut vocals, each song conveys an almost palatable intensity. This is just the beginning for the unique band from Modesto, who strives for perfection. You ask yourself “How can they get better? Only time will tell. This debut four-track EP commands attention from start to finish, “Transporting you from the entrancing first track “Just Fadeâ€? to a more upbeat “Prettyâ€?. If this were a book, it would be a page tuner, be prepared to leave the repeat button on.
- Melissa Ulloa Impact Newspaper

"(interview)Bands are reaching their fans and networking with other bands"

October 23, 2005 8:56 AM EDT

It's not every day an unsigned, local band has more fans than Kelly Clarkson, Bon Jovi and Madonna combined.
But for popular Modesto alternative band Transport, all you need is a little help from your friends and the Web's most popular social-networking site,
Like many aspiring groups, Transport has a band page up at Myspace. The free site allows artists unsigned, indie and major-label acts alike to create Web pages complete with bios, show dates, photos, blogs and streaming music. It links the groups to the more than 34 million registered users of the site most of whom are between the ages of 16 and 34, and all of whom are eager to make friends.
Transport has more than 16,000 "friends" registered users who have asked to be added to a viewable fans list, on its site (
By comparison, inaugural "American Idol" winner Clarkson has about 990, the New Jersey rockers of Bon Jovi have 7,700 and believe it or not Madonna has about 800 (though, to be fair, the Material Girl's site is brand new and adding friends by the minute).
What makes Myspace such a magnet for musicians and music lovers?
Well, consider the fact that it is the fourth-most-trafficked site on the Net, behind only Yahoo, AOL, MSN and eBay. It generates nearly 7.5 billion page views a month, according to online market researcher comScore Media Metrix.
And that is a whole lot of ears.
"From a band perspective, it is probably one of the best tools now that any unsigned and even signed artist can have," said Nathan Penrose, lead singer for Transport. "The fact that you can meet so many people is great. It's hard for unsigned bands to market themselves; this way, you can sit on your computer and do it."
The price is right
Myspace is free, easy and open to anyone age 14 and up. While some parents take issue with what their young children might be exposed to on the largely unmoderated site, there is no arguing with its popularity.
The site integrates Web profiles, blogs, e-mail, instant messaging, music downloads, photo galleries, events, classified listings, groups, chat rooms and user forums to create an entire virtual community.
Myspace also has special pages designated for musicians. My-space Music pages allow bands to stream songs, post MP3 downloads, list shows, create bulletin boards and much more. It also gives them an easy-to-remember URL address in most cases, simply followed by the band name.
More than 361,000 artists have Myspace Music pages. Those range from unknown garage bands to heavy hitters like My Chemical Romance, Jason Mraz and Fiona Apple.
Locally, Myspace is used by musicians, promoters, venues and fans.
Of the 49 bands nominated for Modesto Area Music Association Awards this year, 31 had Myspace Web sites up and running. Of the winners, only two did not have Myspace pages.
"The MAMA voting was really close and strong this year," said MAMA co-founder Chris Murphy. "I think Myspace has helped change how bands approach the awards and market themselves."
On Thursday, the day of this year's MAMA Awards, Best Alternative/Indie winner Fissure ( was ranked the No. 4 most viewed unsigned band on the site's Top Artists link.
Bands aren't the only ones taking advantage of the site. Local promoters use it as a way to screen prospective bands and announce upcoming shows.
"It's pretty much revolutionized what we're doing," said Modesto resident Anastasia Rego, who runs A Girl Hurts records and organizes the annual Central Valley Indie Fest. "It's all I use now as far as a Web site."
Rego and fellow Indie Fest co-founder Robert Brown have a page for A Girl Hurts (
From the more than 350 bands that asked to play Indie Fest, Rego and Brown used Myspace to select the 50 they booked this past May.
"It has been so much easier to pick out the good touring band," Brown said. "You can instantly hear them and say, 'This band is cool' or 'This band isn't going to work' by listening to their site."
People also can discover bands on their own by searching the music pages. Groups can be narrowed down by name, genre, location and proximity.
And just as music lovers can search for bands, bands can search for music lovers.
"It is total target; you can narrow down exactly who your target audience is from age to ZIP code, everything," said Transport's Penrose. "If we have a show in Sacramento, I can search for people in 10 miles of there and of a certain age. Then I can go on their page, see if like our kind of music and and ask if they want to come to the show."
Musicians in different areas can ask one another about local venues, promoters, audiences, etc.
Local venues like Modesto's Fat Cat Music House & Lounge ( and Merced's Mainzer Theater ( have sites, along with the Modesto-based indie record label Devil In the W - Marijke Rowland - Modesto Bee


"Transport Rocks" - The Modesto Bee - 2006


2006 - Sudden Oak Death - EP

2004 - The Coefficent of Friction - Enhanced CD

2003 - 4 Track Demo



Some Highlights:
*"WINNER" Best Alt Rock Artist - MAMA Award 2003
*Television Appearance - Sac & Co KXTV -March 2006
*Song "TV is Dead" Featured in Movie Theaters in the following Markets: New York, Dallas, Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento. 2004-2005

Shared the Stage with:
ED KOWALCZYK of LIVE, Everclear, Anna Nalick, Vertical Horizon, Fastball, Styx, Vanilla Ice, Josh Kelly, Steadman, Michael Tolcher, Luce and more.

Radio Play on:
KWOD 106.5 - Sacramento, Ca
Live 105 - San Francisco, Ca
Indie 103 - Los Angeles, Ca
KOSO B93.1 - Modesto, Ca
X103.9 - Santa Cruz, Ca
92.5 The Bear - Merced, Ca
**in addition to numerous College and Internet Stations.