Promoter Tom Klein has a keen sense for the national bands that will bring hundreds of Madison teenagers out to see a live show. He knows that San Diego's My American Heart is one of them.
The band members themselves are all either 18 or 19. Their multi-ethnic Filipino/Mexican/Anglo identity parallels the increasingly multicultural world of their peers.
My American Heart's brand of emo-rock is muscular enough to sound tough. But listen close and you'll hear plenty of angst - lyrics that yearn for substance over superficiality.
"This is a band that jumped on the MySpace train early, and it really paid off for them," says Klein.
My American Heart will headline the five-band lineup Klein (along with co-promoter True Endeavors) presents at the Loft on Friday, Nov. 17. The show is a page from the next chapter in Klein's saga as the Madison all-ages music promoter who refuses to yield to adversity.
Klein, 20, is an undergraduate business major at Edgewood College. He operated the Journey Music for 18 months at 1517 Regent St., in the lower-level of a church coffeehouse.
That venue was shut down by Klein's landlord, Bob Sieger, last August. Sieger claimed he had never approved use of the space for live music. Klein bitterly disagreed.
Four months out from that dispute, what's most remarkable is that Klein has simply let go of it and moved on. He's transformed the Journey Music into a promotion company and is bringing high-profile young touring bands to Madison with nearly as much frequency as he did when he operated his own venue.
Klein has adopted a new venue to serve as the hub of his efforts - the Loft inside the Lussier Teen Center, 827 E. Washington Ave., a space operated by the Atwood Community Center. He sees advantages and disadvantages in this new arrangement.
"The Loft has its problems," says Klein. "The location is kind of an issue. There's not a lot in that area for youth to do. But at least the people running the center are involved for all the right reasons."
Klein began booking shows at the Loft in October. His initial efforts have been successful: A show headlined by South Dakota's Spill Canvas last month drew more than 300 people.
Klein remains proud of the Journey Music. "I feel like we've got the all-ages market cornered," he says. "I think I'm very knowledgeable of that market, and my street team tells me exactly how well a show will go over."
My American Heart were an obvious choice.
Boasting two Warped tours, 257 YouTube clips and 32,470 MySpace friends, the San Diego-based emo-rockers blend high-adrenaline rock with reflective and emotional lyrics. The band's 2005 CD, The Meaning in Makeup, was released on the influential pop/punk label Warcon.
Fellow San Diegans Pistolita are one of four other bands that will open for My American Heart. The lineup includes Danger:Radio (funk-rock) from Washington state, Action Action (electro indie) from New York and BRP (pop/punk) from Madison.
Like most bands that appeal to today's all-ages audiences, My American Heart maintain a personal relationship with fans online. Through their own Web site and the modern musical trinity of MySpace, PureVolume and YouTube, the band provide an endless stream of audio and video clips of itself for public consumption.
"We've been doin nothin but gettin' down on NBA JAM with the dudes in Pistolita," the band wrote in their electronic tour-journal last week. Here are a couple vids and pictures to show what we've been up to."
The Loft will continue to be the Journey Music's hub for 2006-07.
"It would be cool to eventually get my own place again," Klein says. "But I've got school to finish up and will need to decide where I'm going after that."