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Rocking For A Cause

In tough economic times, many performers hope to be paid in full for their work. Yet one local band featuring USF students has a different plan.

Saturday night, alternative rock band Variance will use their collective talents to hold a concert that benefits cancer victims. The group will be celebrating the release of their album, “Live Every Day,” and portions of the proceeds will go to the American Cancer Society.

Brent Halenkamp, a junior majoring in marketing, said the band was inspired by their own month-long “Make Yourself Useful” YouTube series, which features 22 webisodes showing fans how to perform deeds such as feeding the homeless and donating blood.

“We really believe in causes.” Halenkamp said. “In the future, we want to keep doing these kinds of things.”

For this local musical group, “Variance” is more than just a cool band name.

“It pertains to our songs and who we are,” Halenkamp said.

Alongside vocalist and guitarist Halenkamp, the band includes David Kosinski, a junior majoring in engineering, on drums and vocals, Adonijah Stevens on guitar and vocals and Ali Ahmed on bass.

When asked to describe the band in one word, “ever-changing” was Halenkamp’s reply – and his band mates agreed.

“We delve into different styles and genres and try to write different melodies,” he said. “(We) show diversity in our writing and the kind of people we are and our ethnicities.”

Though Variance has enjoyed success, it did not come overnight. In 2004, Halenkamp and Kosinski met as musicians for another band. After that band broke up, Halenkamp and Kosinski decided to “form a new band that would stick to a bold … style of music.”

Lacking a bass player, they encouraged their best friend Ahmed to take on the task and in 2010, Stevens moved from California to become the band’s second guitarist. That year, the band was among the top 10 nominated in the 97X Next Big Thing competition and performed at Push Ultra Lounge in St. Petersburg that November.

In a tampabay.com article, Variance was described as “arguably the heaviest band in the top 10” and “the young alt-rockers have a sound that would actually sound right at home on 97X – think Trapt and Story of the Year.”

Since 2009, Variance has performed with numerous bands, including Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Scary Kids Scaring Kids and Story of the Year, and collected numerous stories.

Ahmed said one of his favorite on-stage experiences was feeling the energy of the crowd while playing alongside Story of the Year. Halenkamp’s favorite experience is a final show with Framing Hanley, where fans were encouraged to “B.Y.O.P.” – bring your own pillow. Needless to say, pillow fights ensued in the mosh pit.

For Saturday’s performance, Variance will lose the feathers and embark on a greater mission. For band members Halenkamp and Kosinski, the benefit backs the fight against a disease that has caused them personal pain in the past. Both said they’ve had family members afflicted with cancer and know firsthand the pain it can cause.

Variance plans to perform alongside bands Goodnight Neverland, A View from the East Coast, Airsickness, Air Like Oceans and No Inside at the event.

“We’re just hoping to generate a lot of buzz in the area,” Stevens said. “Get everyone and our fans active and ready to help us with this next step.”

Halenkamp said the next step might include shows around the country.

We’ve recently met up with a major promoter…(and) we might be going on tour soon.” he said.

Variance will perform at 5 p.m. Saturday at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg. Tickets can be purchased at variance.myminto.com and will also be sold at the door.