Ballyhoo! brings punk energy + pop reggae to Vail tonight |

Ballyhoo! brings punk energy + pop reggae to Vail tonight

Caramie Schnell
Special to the Daily/Alan Welding from Pittsburgh Music Magazine

If you go ...

What: BALLYHOO! performs.

Where: Checkpoint Charlie, Vail.

When: 6 p.m. Thursday.

Cost: Free.

More information: To hear Ballyhoo’s single “Marijuana Laws,” visit http://www.marijuana for a free download.

Pineapple Grenade.

No, we’re not referring to a fruity, knock-you-on-your butt cocktail. It is the name of Baltimore band BALLYHOO’s latest album, which will be released on June 25th. The album title has Colorado roots.

“Back in February, on our winter tour, we stopped at a friend’s house in Denver. They had some medicinal stuff there in these little jars,” said lead singer and frontman Howi Spangler. “One little jar said Pineapple Grenade on it. I thought it was really awesome, like a tiny package that packs a big punch and that matches the sound of our band.”

Indeed, the four-member reggae-rock band has a very explosive punk-rock approach to its music. That should come as no surprise if you know the definition of the word “ballyhoo,” which is, first: “Sensational or clamorous advertising or publicity,” or, second: “noisy shouting or uproar.”

Spangler started the band with his brother Donald, the drummer, when they were 13 years old. The siblings have been performing together for 18 years now.

“A friend said you should name your band ballyhoo,” Spangler said. “I had to look it up a few times. I kind of thought well, we are a loud noise in my mom’s basement. Especially since at that point we probably sounded pretty bad. But it was one word, it was very colorful and seemed to represent the way the band was and still is, maybe even more so now.”

From house parties to national tours

Like most fledgling bands, the group started by playing shows at their high school and nearby house parties. Then they broke into the local club scene. After playing mainly in Baltimore for a decade, they yearned for more.

“We needed to get out of town,” said Spangler, who is now 32. “In 2006, we bought a van and a trailer and took off and here we are how many years later.”

Last year, the band played 166 shows around the country, and this year is off to a similar start. This summer, BALLYHOO! co-headlines 40 shows with Authority Zero on the national Summer Sickness Tour. This week, the band has been in California. The show tonight is sandwiched between back-to-back shows in California, which means the band won’t get to enjoy any of the Go-Pro Mountain Games, the event that’s brought them to town to perform a free concert to kick off the festivities.

Directly following a show in Santa Barbara on Wednesday night, the band plans to drive to LAX and catch a flight to Denver. They’ll drive up to Vail today, and then, right after the show, head back to Denver and catch a flight back to California.

“We have a show at 2 p.m. in Irvine on Friday, then right after that we have to take off and make it up to Hollywood for a show at The Roxy (Theatre),” Spangler said.

It’ll be a hectic few days of traveling, but Spangler wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I love what I do and I’d rather be doing this instead of waiting tables or something for a living,” he said.

High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or

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