The clamoring beer glasses clinking on tables and the roar of conversations came to a halt. Almost as if on cue, all eyes made their way to the back of the restaurant as Sarah Rocereta and Tim Beers began to tune their guitars, releasing seductive twangs, mesmerizing the crowd into anticipation.
The sign hanging on the restaurant wall behind the make-shift stage – an open area of cleared chairs and tables Saturday night – described the atmosphere and the band's almost certain vibe: 'Friends.'
Stoli and The Beers began with an acoustic set, a version of their second and most recent CD, "One Hell of a Hangover." Breaking the mold of an everyday garage band, this self-described punk band has developed a unique sound certain to please listeners with its melodic acoustic set and its fast-paced, in-your-face, punk-rock versions of songs.
"All good rock 'n' roll songs should be able to be played around a campfire acoustically," Tim Beers said as he warmed up the diverse crowd Saturday night at Abbondanza's Pizzeria in Longmont to the idea of the acoustic set.
Not only did Stoli and The Beers headline the show but they were also the opening act for the show as well – a decision made that night to separate the acoustic and the electric version so the audience could appreciate the different stylings.
For the show's second half, the band members stood looking, acting and playing like rock stars. They plugged in their amps, set up the drums and gave way to an explosive and unique sound of pop-punk. With a half-cocked smile and black hair falling in front of her face, Rocereta screamed into the microphone while she belted out lyrics. Tim Beers provided an intense beat as he played along, all the while nodding his head to the beat and glancing out into the crowd. Behind the two, hal9000 sat intensely pounding away on the drums, peering out behind sweat-drenched hair.
They rocked through all the songs on both CDs and received approval as several audience members sang along.
The band, which played its second CD release show at Abbondanza's – the first was played Thursday night in Fort Collins at Surfside 7, 150 N College Ave. – has been together for about two years.
"We got together in January of 2003," hal9000 said. "I was kind of iffy because jamming with new bands and new people is kinda weird. But right off the bat we were making hits."
The band's hard-rock/punk-style electric set contrasts heavily with the slowed acoustic version of its music, leaving fans satisfied, wanting more and questioning how and why is this possible from a punk band?
"It's just what came out," Rocereta said. "We all listen to a lot of different stuff and I think that is part of what makes our band so awesome."
Tim Beers agreed that many different types of music influence them all.
"If there is heart and soul, pride, dedication and passion put into the music then it's worth listening to," hal9000 added. "Because that's what we try to do."
Stoli and The Beers toured their first CD, titled "In The Alley," in late September 2004, playing 16 shows in 18 days on a Midwest tour.
The band got its start only two and a half months after first practicing together when it played its first show after one of the scheduled bands dropped off of the list.
"It was spontaneous and on the spot," Rocereta said. "I was so nervous; my knees were shaking and I was playing when I lost all feelings in my knees and fell over, but I kept playing and everyone was screaming, 'Yeah.'"
Tim and hal9000 also agreed that the show was a blast and a great start to their music careers.
"People responded really well only after a couple of months of playing together," Tim Beers said.
Soon after, the three had to establish a name for themselves that would be recognizable to their new fans.
"There are no punk-rock bands named The Beers, which is ridiculous because it's a fabulous name," hal9000 said. "But we didn't just want to be The Beers. Many great bands are somebody and the so and so's. We had to toss around the name, 'somebody and The Beers' and it was up to Sarah to come up with the name. She didn't want to use her real name and it worked out that she picked the name of a vodka that she was fond of and we just kind of went with it."
Stoli and The Beers became official and naturally progressed toward making and recording their first CD.
"After a while, you have enough songs and it's more of a realization to start recording," hal9000 said.
The band recorded at Rock Bottom Studio in Colorado Springs but was separated while hal9000 went to school in Ohio to study recording, which is where the CD was finalized.
"The man's a genius," Tim Beers said of his band mate. "We got local critical acclaim. The Denver Westword named us one of the "Movers and Shakers of 2004," which was an honor because there were only like three punk bands mentioned."
The success of their first CD has caused a ripple effect in the band members' goals and keeps them preparing for more. They often practice at least twice a week to prepare for shows, but spend more time prepping their most recent CD release show because of the added acoustic side.
"Practice started a month ago for the acoustic set," Tim said. "It's kind of important that we keep them (acoustic and electric versions) separate, but at some point we have to incorporate both of the sets into practice sessions, since we are playing both in the same night."
The band has played many shows, but one in particular that stands out in their minds was a show at Cedar Rapids, Iowa, at a house party.
"It was our best show; we only played three songs at it," Tim said. "It is weird that a house show can be considered one of our best shows ever because it's not a club or anything, but that's what punk rock is."
"We started playing and the kids just went crazy and after the second song, all of a sudden, this girl gets pushed into (hal9000). We told everybody to calm down, started playing again and there was just a huge brawl, but we sold a ton of merchandise that night," Rocereta said.
While times are going well for the band, there have also been hard times that musicians often go through, specifically at one of their less memorable shows.
"The place was dead, and the other band came in and saw the place was dead and left," hal9000 said. "We got up there and we played in front of Tracey (Tim's wife), the bartender and the bartender's friend, who were watching TV."
Stoli and The Beers' hard work and dedication to the music and the fans is paying off, as they begin their next tour for "One Hell of a Hangover" in April.
"This time around, April 26 is the day that we get in the van to go ride around and rock," hal9000 said. "And it is looking like there will be 33 shows in 34 days across 14 states. I think we are going to go out in the fall and have some more fun. By (that time) we will have conquered the Midwest."
While Stoli and The Beers' success has been donned at such a rapid pace, they still appreciate and thank their loyal fans for coming out to the shows and supporting them.
"If it wasn't for (the fans) I don't know if we would keep doing it, besides for the love of the music," hal9000 said.