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The Rock Show: Punk Passion: Still Standing At The Viper Room
Posted on Friday, June 30 @ 12:19:33 MDT by roadrash
 ShowsWest Hollywood was feeling the heat when the young trio known as Still Standing brought the Viper Room crowd to their feet with a balls-out set. Working the place into a frenzy, the Coppolino brothers led an all out strike, blackening the floors wall-to-wall with precision musicianship and a searing performance.

Punk Passion: Still Standing At The Viper Room
Story and photos by Janice French

Johnny Coppolino

At the last minute I got the message. I was given permission to photograph Still Standing at the notorious and exclusive Viper Room in West Hollywood, California. This permission is almost unheard of in photojournalism. Honored and apprehensive, I gathered my cameras, jumped in my truck and drove over seven hundred miles straight through arriving just hours before their set. What would make me do such a seemingly insane thing? Still Standing. 

Upon arrival I was told no photos of the interior of the venue or the patrons, just the band. I was sworn to secrecy as to what went on and who was there. All I can say is that the interior of the Viper Room was black and red, clean and streamlined and in one corner sat a small black stage. The staff was polished and professional and the patrons respectful, friendly and self assured. It was a good place to be. As soon as the band started the true secret of The Viper Room was revealed. They have the best indoor sound system I have ever had the absolute pleasure to experience. I can't rave enough about it. The mix was perfect and to hear a band's live music at the Viper Room was like listening to a flawlessly recorded album. 

Still Standing is an exciting alternative punk rock band consisting of identical twin brothers Justin Coppolino lead vocals/ bass and Johnny Coppolino back-up vocals/guitar plus their good friend Alex Zaraycki on drums. Hard work, determination, amazing talent and hearts made of music had brought this trio to the attention of the public and created a huge grassroots fan base. I wanted to know if it was studio smoke and mirrors or if these guys were the real deal and was soon to find out as they took to the stage with a solid presence. 

Justin's bass began a tense rhythm then Johnny's guitar crashed in as Alex slammed his drums and "Kiss Yourself Goodbye" began. This angry and liberating song is about the turning point in a bad relationship, that point where one says enough is enough. It hits home as many in the audience sang the words with them. I was struck by its uncluttered instrumentals and Justin's expressive vocal quality. Johnny and Justin's graduated and variable harmonies totally showcased the line "I've been crawling backwards away from this laughter/You've placed inside you crossed this line..." and really highlighted what is special about this band. Their song writing isn't lazy, formulaic and predictable on the contrary it's fresh, dynamic, well thought out and executed brilliantly. They were the real deal. 

In red and aqua lights they performed the fast driving song "Suck It Up." The brothers stood back and played the opening instrumentals, leaned forward in unison and sang then stepped back again, they were fun to watch. This piece had a great melodic hook and harmonic chorus. Bathed in red lights, Johnny moved to center stage and held his guitar out as he played. Alex's sticks were flying and his hands were a blur. The crowd was thickening up by now and heavy rocking out was going on upfront. 

Alex Zaraycki

Dripping with sweat Johnny played as beautiful and intricate guitar lick as the introspective and poignant "No Vision" started. With a glint in his eyes Justin seemed to open up his heart and lay bare feelings of loss and grief. His emotional and powerful vocal performance gave me a chill. The tone and quality to his voice was piercing and intense as the song became a flowing, melodic desolate dance of smoothly integrated instrumentals and words. Johnny put his foot on a speaker and leaned out towards the now packed audience during the final instrumentals and it finished to a thundering applause. 

"Guardian Devil" had a cool punk melody. On the red glowing stage with an aqua spot light on him, Johnny leaned forward and low to the floor as he played the intro. Then Alex burst out with wild hard pounding drums and his hair was flying. With sweat running down his face Justin sang "I still can't get it out of my head..." and spontaneous random screams erupted from the crowd. The boys moved back to play their guitars then up to the mics, weaving harmonies while their arms moved in unison on the strings. Not only was this a great song to hear but visually the band packed a punch and everyone was dancing. 

Alex lowered his head, put on a devilish grin and pointed his drum stick at the crowd then suddenly slammed down hard and "Reaction" began. Justin's vocals turned raw and edgy as he would move up and down on his toes putting his all into the words. The fans were cheering and rocking out hard. This song had a great furious drum line that suddenly ebbed then surged back full throttle. Justin closed his eyes as he sang "I'm counting down the days till I believe..." Women started screaming. With an awesome focus Johnny played a wicked, trippy guitar lick that drove the song home. The audience went wild when their set was over. I wanted more.

Inside the walls of the Viper Room Still Standing put on an outstanding exhibition of youthful punk rock and the venue itself became my favorite club. Honestly, Still Standing is one of the best bands I've seen live on the Sunset Strip. Their perfect unity and integration in their instrumentals was fascinating and produced a great hard rock sound. But what I was most impressed with was Still Standing's beautifully written songs and lyrics that knocked at the doors of common human experiences and touched the listeners in a real way. They have an EP available at this time and are currently recording a new album ... I can't wait to get my hands on it!


AlexZarzyckiStillStanding2.jpg (785220 bytes) JohnnyCoppolinoStillStanding4.jpg (865837 bytes) JustinCoppolinoStillStanding3.jpg (760671 bytes)
JustinCoppolinoStillStanding1.jpg (864876 bytes) JohnnyCoppolinoStillStanding2.jpg (894461 bytes) AlexZarzyckiStillStanding1.jpg (1075566 bytes)
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The Viper Room
West Hollywood, CA


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