A Lisbon group attempts to capture the title of best high school band at the annual Rock-Off competition in Portland.
They didn’t win, but they awed the crowd of 400 with some rough and relentless rock ‘n roll.

The Lisbon High School band, Alteria, saved its best for last in the 19th Annual Rock-Off finals held Sunday in Portland.

Ending with the song “Disbelief,” Kevin Partridge’s beat evoked the drums of war.

Rhythm and lead guitarist Brandon Casper played behind his head a la Jimi Hendrix.

Lead singer Chase Hebert screamed with phantom shards of glass in his throat.

In a final fury of sound, bass guitarist Luc Michaud pulled on his guitar like a chainsaw.

The group’s 25-minute set ended at 4:45 p.m. They all said it went well.

“I was thinking, ‘How am I doing this?'” Casper said of playing guitar behind his head.

Partridge, caught up in the blinding blur of his drumming, cut an eye-lid with a drumstick. Blood stained his T-shirt. They all wore T-shirts with jeans or shorts.
Pre-show antics
They had a long day. It began with a 9 a.m. practice session at home but the ball really got rolling at 12:30 p.m. when they arrived at the McAuley Performing Arts Center in a blue Plymouth Voyager van and a 1995 Mazda Protege with three hubcaps.

Fresh from reveling into the night at Lisbon High’s prom, some of them sport Mardi Gras beads.

“Adrenaline,” Michaud said of his state of mind. “That’s all it is.”

“It’s really hard to juggle prom and this at the same time,” Hebert said.

They were glad, though, that they had forgotten a piece of equipment – a wireless system, which parents arrived with later.

That boded well for them, they said, because they always forget one thing before a show. They also noted that like their last show, they did not sleep much the night before and have similar weather.

“It’s like deja vu,” Michaud said. “It’s going well.”

Casper suddenly sprinted ahead of the group as they walked the grounds of the high school.

“This is what I love,” Partridge said of pre-show antics.

Back in the lobby after unpacking their equipment into a gym, the band hears the filler music of the professional group Godsmack playing over loudspeakers in the arts center.

“Now this is irony,” Michaud said, “playing Godsmack in a Catholic school.”

Around 2 p.m. the band started setting up equipment. The backstage flowed with people as various bands came and went in a sort of controlled chaos.

Before their sets, the bands could slide their equipment into position. Killing time again out front by listening to other bands play, Alteria signed autographs for some young fans.

“They don’t even know us,” Casper said.
Getting pumped

By 3:15 p.m. the band started showing its typical behavior before a show.

Hebert sat and chilled out. Michaud and Partridge moved around a lot. Casper got very quiet. “Everybody’s very different before a show,” Michaud said. At about 3:40 they headed backstage to get ready.

A photographer documented the band’s movements for posterity. “This is like ‘Spinal Tap,'” said Louis Philippe, executive producer of the Rock-Off. Like an amorphous amoeba, the band members moved in a circle, sliding their equipment in place backstage. They unfurled and hoisted their backdrop banner.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” said Partridge, who never feels good before a show. He clasped the others before adding, “I don’t feel good. I really don’t feel good. I’m gonna be pukin’ in a minute.”

Soon, they huddled up.

“Do your best out there,” Hebert said, as they all put their hands in the middle of the circle. “We’re in it for the fun.”

“One, two, three,” they chanted. “It’s ours!”

Minutes later, they stormed the stage.

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