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Ska band Social Control working to get name out

Social Control, a band formed in 2004 by five high school students, dreamed of bringing the ska scene back to Las Vegas. Since then, the group has performed throughout the city and attracted many fans.

“Las Vegas has a very weak scene here in terms of music,” said guitarist Omar Cano, 18, who just graduated from Clark High School. “There is barely any good all-age venues that last more than a year. We hope to show people how good our music is and influence other people to do the same.”

The band’s name was created by Diego Reyes, guitarist and lead singer for Social Control.

“We were not sure what it meant at the time, but it sounded cool,” Cano said. “After looking up the meaning, it made perfect sense.”

“Social control” is defined as control exerted by group action. According to Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, “social control theory” proposes that exploiting the process of socialization and social learning builds self-control and reduces the inclination to indulge in behavior recognized as anti-social.

“Our custom is our music,” Cano said. “We let kids listen to what they think is good and what they like, not what others say they should like.”

Ska is a form of dance music that was popular in Jamaica in the 1960s. It is characterized by the use of saxophones and brass, a heavily accented offbeat, and the influence of New Orleans rhythm and blues, jazz and calypso.

“We play ska and punk, with a little of other influences as well, such as jazz, soul and reggae, indie and different bands that we all listen to but not necessarily sound like,” Cano said.

He described the band’s music as a combination of drum beats, bass lines and guitar riffs. The fast-paced music “makes you want to jump and dance around,” he said.

“It’s really fun music to listen to, in my opinion,” Cano said.

In the past 3 1/2 years, band members have had to balance the time they spend on their music with school and work, which remain top priorities.

“We try to play as many shows as we can,” Cano said. “We usually have done two to three shows a month, but with most of us going to school and working, it is really hard to schedule to practice our gigs.”

In mid-2004, the group played its first show at Gameworks on the Strip for a “battle of the bands” competition, which ended up being one of its best shows. Shortly after, band members recorded their first demo, which they distributed to fans.

Since then, Social Control has played with a variety of local bands such as Over the Line, GBD, Holding on to the Sound and One Pin Short. The group also has played with bands from California, Texas, Colorado and Switzerland.

Most often, Social Control plays at the home of drummer Jesse Alonzo.

“Most of the best shows we have had were there, just a chill spot, people having a good time,” Cano said.

Alonzo, 18, and Reyes, 19, both attend the Community College of Southern Nevada.

Social Control has been moving from backyards into more recognizable and established facilities, getting its name out into the mainstream world of music. The band recently played at University Theatre, an all-ages venue near the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and has performed at smaller venues around the valley. Band members hope eventually to land a record contract.

“I think this band is very good because they’re not lazy,” said Daniel Anthoney, a senior at Cheyenne High School. “They actually get out there and do something to get their name mentioned. I like their sound. The saxophone is unique but common at the same time, because all ska bands have a horn or two.”

To check out the band’s music profile on the Internet, go to http://www.myspace.com/socialcontrol.

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