Los Angeles Daily News
Dec 30 2004

Concert will showcase unknown bands

By Naush Boghossian
Staff Writer

GLENDALE - Jirair Habeshian has been in five bands in the past 24
years so knows how hard it is for a band that's just starting out to
get gigs.

That's how the 38-year-old got the idea to produce a concert that
features only unknown local bands - especially those with musicians
of Armenian descent. The result is the HyeRock Festival in Hollywood.

"Growing up in the Glendale-Burbank area and being a musician in the
rock genre, I basically saw there was little support from the
community, and I think it's specifically true for the Armenian
community," Habeshian said.

Proceeds from the event will go to Artists for Kids, a Glendale-based
nonprofit foundation formed two years ago to promote art and culture
among local youths.

The festival will showcase The Gor Band, Aviatic, In Progress, Red
Snow and Non-Eye, whose music ranges from folk-influenced rock to
alternative and hard rock.

Rock bands made up of members of Armenian descent have been
proliferating in the Los Angeles area in the last decade, a trend
many in the community attribute to the mainstream success of the
all-Armenian member band System of a Down.

System was successful at rallying Armenian youth and repeatedly had
sold-out shows, which drew the attention of music executives,
Habeshian said.

And that's the kind of buzz he hopes the event will generate for
other bands.

Narek Stepanian, 15, the bassist for Non-Eye, said his band has
played at the smaller El Rey and Roxy theaters, but the Henry Fonda
Music Box Theatre is on a different level.

"It's a great opportunity for people to hear us and not judge us
based on our age. It's very hard to get our name out there because
we're a relatively new band and we're not signed and there are plenty
of other bands so it would have been hard for us to get a gig this
big," said the Glendale resident.

Vahe Marzbetuny formed the hard-rock band Red Snow in 1986 with his
brother and Habeshian at a time when being Armenian and a rock
musician were conflicting realities.

He's noticed that the success of System of a Down has helped slowly
change perceptions about rock musicians in the Armenian community.

"Armenians have been limited to certain kinds of music, be it
traditional Armenian music or really sad Armenian music, and we've
never really had rock," said the 40-year-old guitar player from
Granada Hills. "Back then, there wasn't support to be in a rock band,
but now it's blowing up. It's come full circle and it's great to see
young people and older people start to accept it."

If You Go: The HyeRock Festival will take place at 7 p.m. today at
the Henry Fonda Music Box Theatre, 6126 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood.
Admission is $20. Call (818) 240-1515 or (818) 523-9995.