By Quentin Young
JJ Evanoff gave his first public performance in a school show when he was in fifth grade. His classmates carried him off the stage in triumph, he recalled, and having played the guitar not even a year, he decided to stick with it.
Now the 20-year-old Boulder native is entertaining fans on a much larger scale and has taken his act, which includes Parker Oberholzer on bass and synth and B.K. Kahn on drums, to the Fox Theatre and other top local venues.
They’re called the JJ Evanoff Experience, and that’s a clue to what they’re up to. The Experience started when Evanoff began making electronic music for himself to play guitar over. The addition of band members and the development of the on-stage performance proceeded in the style of live electronic music and in line with rising local acts such as Big Gigantic and SunSquabi, which feature live instruments over programmed music.
But Evanoff’s heart beats to the crunch of rock ‘n’ roll, and his band is more about the “live” than the “electric.” His idol is Pete Townshend, and his music-fan father raised him on The Who, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. The name of his band recalls The Jimi Hendrix Experience.
Evanoff has rolled into the live electronic scene with a mission to bring rock back.
“It’s not really around anymore,” he said. “It feels really good to do it.”
He senses a waning interest for EDM, so he believes the time is right. And his band is comfortable dropping the electronics altogether.
“Some parts are just pure rock trio,” he said.
In recent months, the Experience has performed at the Lazy Dog in Boulder, as well as The 1up-Colfax and Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom in Denver. The band is headlining the Larimer Lounge in Denver on Saturday, June 6.
The band is looking to expand its fan base from Boulder to Denver and beyond. The band recently released a new single, “Breathe Out,” and plans to release more songs this summer. It’s also planning a monthlong tour of Colorado that would hit metro Denver and resort venues, Evanoff said.
Evanoff’s father got him into rock, but it was his grandmother who got him his first guitar. He was 10. It wasn’t long before he was practicing four hours a day, he said. The distractions of high school life briefly slowed his progress when he was a student at Fairview High School in Boulder. But a music teacher, Rochelle Gallup, helped him get back on track.
“She gave me a lot of opportunities,” Evanoff said.
With her encouragement, he began playing the school’s annual variety show, performances that were the prototype for the Experience. The band’s drummer, Kahn, was also a Fairview student, a year ahead of Evanoff, and he also played the variety show, Evanoff said.
Evanoff has continued to make music part of his academic experience and recently finished his sophomore year in the recording arts program at the University of Colorado Denver.
Some live electronic music includes just a couple of live instruments, such as sax and drums. The Experience has a full rock band in its lineup, which is an advantage when the true aim is rock ‘n’ roll. Plus, Evanoff said, “I found the most amazing bassist and drummer.”
The Larimer Lounge show also includes sets by Second Species, True School and Melody Lines.
If you go
What: JJ Evanoff Experience
When: 9 p.m. Saturday, June 6
Where: Larimer Lounge, 2721 Larimer St., Denver