Saturday, Jul 21, 2018
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Local band selected as Vans Warped Tour contest winners


Toledo-based band Silver Age poses for a promotional photograph. The pop-punk artist earned a grand prize in a Vans Warped Tour competition worth $60,000.

Courtesy of Kinkade Ruppert Enlarge

It’s not a cliche to say the best news comes at the most unexpected times.

Caleb Pilaske, bassist for the Toledo band Silver Age, recently received such a phone call from a Vans Warped Tour representative while delivering a pizza during a shift for Pizza Hut.

The message? His band had been chosen as this year’s Ernie Ball PLAY Warped grand prize winner, a $60,000 honor that came with the opportunity to record a three-song EP with producer John Feldmann, who has worked with popular bands and artists such as 5 Seconds Of Summer, Panic! At the Disco, Good Charlotte, Mandy Moore, Hilary Duff and the Plain White T’s.

“I answered the phone and I was like, ‘Hey,’ and he basically asked, ‘How would you guys like to be the grand prize winners?’ I took a second; I wasn’t expecting that at all. I was like, ‘Yeah.’ What else would I say, ‘No’?” the 19-year-old Owens Community College student said with a laugh. “It was incredible.”

Earlier this summer, the four friends who make up Silver Age submitted song videos to participate in the point-based contest that included thousands of entries worldwide in hopes of being selected to perform on the main stage at the nearest stop of the 40-plus date Vans Warped Tour, a music festival featuring countless bands and artists.

To the band’s amazement, Silver Age was among the 41 bands selected from more than 17,000 entries.

On July 21, the friends packed their gear and drove to the Palace Of Auburn Hills near Detroit to play that day’s music festival stop. It would be Silver Age’s largest show ever as the group performed in front of thousands of people.

“When we found out, we were in shock,” Pilaske said.

The momentum continued when Vans Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman and music producer Feldmann personally selected the Glass City pop-punk band as the grand prize winner from the 41 finalists. That $60,000 package includes a year’s supply of guitar strings from Ernie Ball, $10,000 to spend at Guitar Center, guitars and bass guitars provided by Ernie Ball Music Man, and various other equipment.

The package also includes recording a three-song EP with Feldmann at his Los Angeles studio. That session isn’t yet scheduled.

“I definitely think [Feldmann] is going to help us polish up our songwriting and just make certain parts of our songs stick out and help us more with the dynamics of our songwriting,” said 19-year-old guitarist and vocalist Evan Villarreal. 

Cody Sizemore, director of operations for Innovation Concerts, who helps book shows at the Ottawa Tavern, Frankies Inner-City and Headliner’s, said he’s watched the band become more serious in its songwriting over the past several years.

It’s not easy for a band from Toledo to beat 17,000 other music hopefuls, Sizemore said.

“It goes to show that if you work hard and believe in something and keep hammering it out, you can win something like that,” he said. “There’s a lot of really great talent in Toledo.”

Contact Geoff Burns at or 419-724-6054.

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