Roc On! Series
Rochester is no stranger to good music. The Flower City, home of the International Jazz Festival and the Eastman School of Music, has produced several prominent singers, songwriters and bands within the last few decades. Among the greats that hail from the area are opera singer and soprano Renee Fleming; Foreigner’s lead singer Lou Gramm; punk rock band Such Gold, Grammy award winning jazz composer and musician Chuck Mangione and indie rock band Joywave.
Each of these acts have garnered enough attention to take them from Rochester and put them in the global spotlight, with Fleming performing at London’s famed Royal Opera House and Such Gold playing alongside major pop-punk acts Four Year Strong and The Story So Far. While these are the easily recognizable names that have achieved international acclaim, there are dozens of other lesser-known individuals and groups in the Rochester area deserving of recognition for the talents they contribute to the city’s music culture.
While attending Finger Lakes Community college for audio engineering, Rochester native Robbie Allen played guitar and was on vocals for the band This is a Stick Up (TIASU), who also toured throughout the U.S. When TIASU called it quits in late 2011, a heartbroken Allen spent a lot of time alone writing new music. Finally, in 2012, he called up Travis Handley, whom he knew from high school, and told him “I have music ... you’re going to be the bass player.”
Nick Becker was brought on the lineup “by default” when he was the sole person to respond to Allen’s Facebook ad for a second guitar player.Drummer Cody Ayers started out with the group, and was replaced by Pete Doherty in 2015. Together, Allen, Handley, Becker and Doherty form Hideout.
Finding Their Sound
Initially, the band hoped to take their sound in the direction that they described as “youth crew hardcore and punk and mix it together so it was forceful and fast but with thick chords and ... a lot of melody ... but [it’s ended up with] way more clean parts and it’s slowed down a little bit.” While there is a heated debate about bands that don’t want to “genere-ify” themselves and end the categorization of music, Allen doesn’t hesitate to describe Hideout as a melodic hardcore band. Purporting that genre descriptions are extremely useful for describing bands, Allen notes, “It sounds pretentious when bands attempt to act like they defy genre convention, because you’re inevitably ripping off somebody ... all art is derivative.” Allen personally draws inspiration from early to mid-2000s music and “songwritery punk stuff” like The Flatliners and Hot Water Music. Hideout is most frequently compared to post-hardcore acts La Dispute, Touché Amore and Defeater.
The Rochester Scene
Within the local music scene, hardcore is only accepted or popular if it’s really heavy, which Hideout is not. While Hideout locally plays dozens of shows with strong lineups, even alongside hardcore groups, they still are not considered part of the genre. Allen jokes, “We get a way better reaction out of state than we do here ... Rochester doesn’t like us very much.”
However, Allen is quick to emphasize that you have to put out songs that you are passionate about as a band instead of making music to please other people. Hideout is strictly music-driven, writing and playing out of pure enjoyment and passion.
“I really just play the things I want to play, and we do that, and I think that has hurt us in terms of popularity ... I like the music that we make, we like the music that we make, and for us, that’s the point ... don’t get me wrong, I would love it if 1,000 people showed up when we played a show, but I’m not going to play music I don’t like so that will happen.”
From his experiences traveling and touring with several bands, Allen has played in cities across the U.S., but firmly believes that the "talent pool here [in Rochester] is one of the best that you'll ever find."
“[The] talent pool here [in Rochester] is one of the best that you’ll ever find.”
Dismissing the idea of the “good old days,” Allen states that you have to “make the scene what you want it to be,” and the Rochester music scene is very much alive and well.
Allen and the members of Hideout are some of the most down-to-earth, hardworking musicians out there, with many of their successes resulting from their continuous active efforts to propel the band forward. While they’ve seen other local bands fail time and again after setting too lofty of goals for themselves within too small of a time frame, the goals Allen and Hideout have had for themselves were always exceeded, which has worked in their favor. This tactic has clearly worked for them because while the band still plays many local shows each year, they have gained traction beyond Monroe County. Just last year, Hideout was invited to play at the 15th anniversary of The Fest, a major punk rock music festival in Gainesville, Fla., a huge milestone for any group. Like any group gaining popularity, Hideout has gained a dedicated fan base. Allen says the best feelings in the world are “when people sing lyrics you wrote back in your face” and seeing lyrics he’s written tattooed on their bodies.
However, Allen isn’t afraid to admit the band’s shortcomings. “If we’ve made a mistake as a band ... I have this,” he laughs, holding up a flip phone. “So I’m not very social media active.” He recognizes the importance of human interaction and content generation in this digital age, saying, “If I have a negative experience in the Rochester scene, it’s because we’re not involved enough in that social media stuff.” But for Hideout, the main focus is on doing what they love: writing music and putting songs together. He says, “We didn’t get signed because of social media presence,” referring to the early music they self-released and distributed on the Internet, where it was discovered by the record label. But this, once again, attests to the time and effort the members of Hideout invest in their music.
Music As a Passion
The hardest part of being in a band is making ends meet, because “bands don’t make any money.” Each member of Hideout maintains a full-time job in addition to touring, recording and practicing with the band, as do the members of most smaller bands. However, when people ask Allen — who works in IT for Datto — what he does, they want to know his line of work, which he finds disgruntling. He says, “That’s not who I am ... I would rather tell them I’m a musician because that’s who I am ... that’s my passion ... [that] defines me. It’s the thing that I’ll leave behind when I die.” Allen loves everything music: he loves to write it, sing it, strum it and talk it. He loves playing locally at Vineyard Community Center and the Bug Jar, and aspires to playing overseas someday. Music has pulled him out of teen angst and depression, and has given him a “way to purge bad feelings out of [himself] in a super healthy way.” This passion has transformed his life, and he ponders, “Why be alive on this planet if you cannot find something that makes you feel like you have a purpose to exist?”
“Why be alive on this planet if you cannot find something that makes you feel like you have a purpose to exist?”
Come let Hideout’s talent and passion transform you on April 8 at the Bug Jar.
- Robbie Allen, guitar/vocals
- Travis Handley, bass/vocals
- Nick Becker, guitar
- Pete Doherty, drums
See them live:
April 8, 2017 – Hideout (ROC), Treadwater (ROC), Swiss Army (Pittsburgh) + TBD @ The Bug Jar