St. John's School of Rock kids to play gig for donors who helped get them to Europe

·3 min read
Members of the St. John's School of Rock house band in Lisbon ahead of their first-ever European gig.  (Submitted by Nicole O'Brien - image credit)
Members of the St. John's School of Rock house band in Lisbon ahead of their first-ever European gig. (Submitted by Nicole O'Brien - image credit)
Submitted by Nicole O'Brien
Submitted by Nicole O'Brien

In February the kids of the St. John's School of Rock house band started raising money to get them to Europe, after winning their way onto a Rock in Rio stage in Lisbon.

They had four months to raise $20,000.

And they did it.

The 12 members of the band, ranging from 13 to 18, succeeded with an online campaign that received a big boost from comedian Rick Mercer and Juno award-winning singer Jann Arden.

Tickets were booked, bags were packed and the band embarked on a journey that left a lasting impression on the players and the family members they travelled with — a particularly large road crew.

"At first I didn't believe it. This has got to be a joke. There was no way," Caleb O'Brien, an 18-year-old guitar player with the band, told CBC News Friday.

"It was just insane. Surreal. My life hasn't been very long, but I never thought that I'd get that opportunity — especially once you see how much money we needed."

Caleb's mom, Nicole O'Brien, was along for the ride, and spearheaded the fundraiser. At the time, the group decided either they all went or nobody went.

School of Rock St. John's/Facebook
School of Rock St. John's/Facebook

"It was really great to have everybody together," she said.

The group flew into Madrid, in Spain, a few days ahead of the festival, which allowed for a couple of warm-up gigs.

The School of Rock played at a lounge in Madrid and the following day a market in Lisbon.

But June 26 was the big night — the one each member of the band had been looking forward to for months and the biggest gig of their lives.

"We were just buzzing with excitement, just roaring to go," Caleb said.

"As soon as we landed in Madrid it kind of finally set in for a lot of people that we were doing it and it just wasn't some big elaborate joke. It really became real in that moment."

Taking the stage

Out the country for the first time, Caleb said the whole ordeal was pretty surreal.

He said heading to the festival grounds the day of the concert was filled with nerves.

Submitted by Nicole O'Brien
Submitted by Nicole O'Brien

"But nerves mean you care," he said.

"You don't get that opportunity very often and you don't want to mess it up."

Nicole O'Brien said the festival crowd were all about the young band who, for the first time in their lives, were playing a gig with the Atlantic Ocean between them and home.

"The crowd went nuts every time our kids were on the stage. They really shined out there. It was quite an honour to see," she said.

School of Rock St. John's/Facebook
School of Rock St. John's/Facebook

As a thank you to supporters, and those who helped chip in to get the band and family on flights, the School of Rock is playing a gig at the Rec Room in the Avalon Mall in St. John's on Saturday.

The doors open at noon NT with the band taking the stage at 1 p.m.

They'll be playing the same set as they played in Lisbon as a way to showcase their stuff for those who couldn't make the journey.

Caleb said it was a group decision to put off the show.

"They did something for us, so lets give them a show of what we were able to do in Europe," he said.

WATCH: See the St. John's School of Rock house band perform Neil Young's Rockin' in the Free World in Lisbon:  

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting