Subliners emerge victorious at 2023 Tri-C High School Rock Off


John Kuntz

Photo Courtesy of photographer John Kuntz

At the 2023 Tri-C High School Rock Off Final Exam, twelve finalists competed for the title of “best high school band in the land.” Subliners, composed of five members who also participate in School of Rock’s house band Headliners, took home first place. The band has been playing together in Headliners for over two years, but only started working as a band two months ago to prepare for the Rock Off. The band includes Ty Jacobs, a senior at University School, on guitar and vocals, Cam Weir, a senior at Revere High School, on guitar, Ethan Ventresca, a junior at Hudson High School, on keys and vocals, Luca Blaze, a sophomore at Lakewood High School, on bass, and John Finley, senior at Bay High School, on drums.

First-place winners receive a $3000 prize and $250 awarded to the band members’ school music program. The winner also has the opportunity to perform as an opening act for a Live Nation or House of Blues concert.

“We plan to put together some bigger sets now that we’re getting much longer gigs such as the Broadview Heights home days,” said Jacobs. “What we’ve been putting together will end up being an amazing set and a really fun show!”

All finalists also had the opportunity to record a song and have it professionally produced at Tri-C’s studio. The group chose an instrumental piece by Mark Lettieri called “Magnetar.”

“It was the opener of our set and just a super fun tune,” said Blaze. “A big thanks to him for allowing us the rights!”

The rest of their set included a mashup of “Riot” and “Me and Your Mama” by Childish Gambino, and “Welcome To Hell” by black midi.

“We picked songs that we thought would be most hype for that environment,” said Finley. “We added our own little things to make the original parts more interesting. I also sped up every song like 10 BPMs to add more energy.”

Ventresca added that they chose these songs because they “wanted to be different. We wanted songs we knew no one else would play and we just wanted to see where we could take it.”

Additionally, the band incorporated crowd work into their set such as a call and response segment during “Riot.”

“The best part of the Rock Off final round was the crowd,” said Jacobs. “They were so supportive and totally worked with us on everything we planned to do. They were super supportive and I appreciate the energy even after all the other amazing bands performed.”

“Most people don’t realize that when the crowd engages, the performer sees, feels, and reacts to it.”

With their prize money, most of the band plans to buy new music gear, with Blaze saving up for a Fender jazz bass, Jacobs replacing his drum set’s cymbals, and Finley adding some vinyl and CDs to his collection.

Weir commented on his feelings after their big win saying, “I was very surprised and grateful and felt very fortunate for all the opportunities that allowed us to get here.”

Blaze also explained how he felt at the moment of the announcement. “At the end of our set, I have to admit, I was really pumped up and proud of our performance. But that didn’t make it any less shocking and amazing to hear them announce our name. I don’t think it really hit me that WE won until the proceeding days, and I have to say it feels pretty great!”