The Northeastern Pennsylvania music scene has lost a number of important venues for all-ages shows over the last few years, making it increasingly difficult for original local musicians to find places to play, so when the news came in 2014 that the former Moonshine Theater in downtown Scranton, which remained vacant for years, was under new ownership and would be renamed The Leonard Theater, it gave the scene renewed hope that things would eventually improve.
After The Menzingers’ NEPA Holiday Show in 2014, the theater has hosted various events, including mixers, craft shows, and Scranton Fringe Festival performances, but very few concerts as management changed and renovations continued. Now that new executive director Steve Masterson of DamnMillennial! Promotions has officially taken over, the bookings have begun, including The Ataris on Dec. 1 and Trapt on Dec. 11, but three Scranton-based bands had the honor of starting things off at The Leonard Kickoff Party on Friday, Nov. 4.
The Boneflowers, a newly formed alternative rock act that debuted at the 2016 Steamtown Music Awards in September, opened the night as a duo, though they managed to sound like the full band that will be heard on their upcoming debut record due out next year. Indie rockers Esta Coda were up next, proving once again in a short but passionate set why they’re one of the most universally praised bands in the local scene.
Young pop rock quartet Black Tie Stereo headlined the show, first playing an energetic set of original party-ready pop tunes and then coming back with a second set of chart-topping cover songs. Voted the “Best Pop/Top 40 Act” in the Steamtown Music Awards this year, the band showed why they won a Battle of the Bands to play Fuzz Fest over the summer by performing with the tightness and professionalism of the big national acts they’ve shared stages with.
Hoping to keep that momentum going, Black Tie Stereo announced that night that they will be recording an EP in Los Angeles with producer Mark Mazzetti (who has worked with John Mayer, Janet Jackson, Sting, and other notable artists) and have launched an Indiegogo campaign to make it happen. They’re shooting for a goal of $25,000 to “cover travel, lodging, production, and recording costs” by the end of next month, according to the crowdfunding page.
Judging by their performance at The Leonard, they certainly earned a few backers from that crowd as enthusiastic fans danced the night away.
Esta Coda photos by John-Michael J. Occhipinti Photography
by Rich Howells
Rich is an award-winning journalist, longtime blogger, practicing poet, adequate photographer, and podcast co-host. He is the founder and editor of NEPA Scene.