Rocking out is the name of the game for a Huntington-based band of driven twentysomethings who are preparing for their biggest show yet.
On Saturday, Jan. 23, they’ll be headlining The Bitter End, a Manhattan music venue that has hosted the likes of Stevie Wonder, Lady Gaga and Bob Dylan.
“It’s awesome,” Jarrod Beyer, the band Gnarly Karma’s drummer, said in an interview Tuesday. “We’re all ready for the task. This is what we’ve been working for, big shows in the city.”
Initially, Beyer said the Greenwich Village venue only offered the band a weeknight spot. However, just a few weeks later, the person in charge of The Bitter End’s booking called Beyer to tell him he had heard some of their music and felt that they were weekend quality, and would have the opportunity to headline a Saturday night show.
“It’s definitely a lot of excitement,” bassist Ryan McAdam said about the gig. “I always get a little nervous a couple of minutes before, just waiting to go on stage. We put a lot of work in, so we always feel pretty comfortable going into the shows. I’m pretty confident we’re going to bang out a great set.”
It turns out the Huntington community set the perfect stage for this band to come together.
Beyer, 25, graduated from John Glenn High School in Elwood in 2008, and first met Mike Renert, the band’s 29-year-old lead singer and guitarist, through a mutual friend about four years ago.
“When you play music with someone, you know in the first 30 seconds if it’s going to work, and that just happened,” Renert said about the first time he and Beyer got together to jam. “It was one of the first times in my life that I … was just like, ‘Hey, I have this song,’ and I started playing, and he played, and it was like, ‘Whoa, that’s the first song and that was exactly what I wanted to hear.’ And it just went from there.”
Renert and Beyer’s natural chemistry inspired them to expand. Beyer had been in another band as a teenager — he called 24-year-old McAdam, another John Glenn graduate from Huntington whom he had experience with.
“He came through, and he gelled with us perfectly,” Beyer said of McAdam.
The band was still missing a little something, so when Beyer heard that Billy Hanley, 25, a saxophone player who Beyer had played with in the John Glenn High School jazz band, was running a record studio in the area, suddenly there were four bandmates.
Gnarly Karma released their first studio album, “Classic Breeze,” via iTunes in September 2015. The group has a familiar but unique sound — they could be described as a distant cousin of The Dave Matthews Band, with a punk edge.
The guys credited their small-town upbringing as a vital ingredient in their success.
“It’s very small, so you know everybody, even if you don’t want to know everybody,” Beyer said. “So it’s kind of cool that, as we got more progressive into music, people who we haven’t talked to in a long time are coming to our shows and supporting us.”