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Your backstage pass to Northeast Ohio's independent music scene.

Akron band Detention grows up on the PorchROKR stage

akron four-piece band detention poses in theater seats
Lee Sechrist
Detention includes members Luke Konopka, Fritz Dannemiller, Evan Cox and Elliott Carter. The four-piece rock band will headline Akron's PorchROKR music festival Saturday, Aug. 19.

This year’s PorchROKR festival will feature more than 150 Northeast Ohio artists performing on outdoor stages in Akron. Headlining the event is Detention, a four-piece that has matured n the PorchROKR stage.

akron band detention performing at porchrokr
Shane Wynn
Akron's PorchROKR festival returns Aug. 19 with more than 100 Northeast Ohio bands performing on outdoor stages around the city's Highland Square neighborhood.

All members of the Akron rock band are younger than 21 but have been active members of Northeast Ohio’s music scene for seven years.

Lead singer Elliott Carter, bass player Fritz Dannemiller, drummer Luke Konopka and guitarist Evan Cox formed the band when they were all in elementary school.

“Then we started becoming friends and writing music, and then it started to feel more like a job and something that we actually wanted to do,” Carter said.

Detention began in 2016 and practiced together at the Fairlawn School of Music.

They started out playing covers of popular rock songs, like the Beatles’ “Helter Skelter” and Devo's "Uncontrollable Urge," in their first few years as a band.

In 2021, Detention debuted its first release, “The Patchwork EP,” which includes six original songs.

The band’s blend of high-energy power chords with the spirit of punk-rock and entertaining live performances has earned them a devoted fanbase throughout the region.

"For years it was like, ‘These guys are really good for a bunch of kids,’” Carter said. “And it's like, I don't want to be good for ‘a bunch of kids.’ I want to be a really good band.”

From practicing rock covers to playing festivals

Dannemiller, now 20 years old, met Konopka, 17, at the Fairlawn School of Music when they were 10 and eight years old, respectively.

Carter, age 19, moved next door to Dannemiller when she was 11 years old. She auditioned to join his band with Judas Priest and Jimi Hendrix songs.

Later, Cox, now age 16, joined the band and kicked off a new era of writing original songs.

“We have ska influence, we have indie influence, you know, and all of our music tastes are vastly different,” Carter said. “The new songs that we're writing are so different from the other things that we already have out. I honestly can't see us going forward being defined by a particular genre.”

"Hearing people shout the lyrics to a song that I wrote in my bedroom when I was 15 is wild... and just every time, I don't take it for granted. I'm never any less blown away."
Elliott Carter

Detention has performed across the Northeast Ohio region with Akron influences prevailing in their music, with songs like “Devilberries (Don’t Eat the Berries on the Devil Strip)” and covers of the Black Keys being a staple of their live shows.

“We started covering Devo basically through just like in appreciation of Akron and, you know, wanting to be another Akron band, and, like, it's the same thing with the Black Keys,” Carter said. “I grew up on the same street that they owned a house on, that they recorded their albums."

After performing locally at events like the Devo 5K at Lock 3, the band traveled to California to play the famed Whisky a Go Go.

In 2021, Detention opened for Kesha at the WonderBus festival in Columbus.

“She was the headliner on the main stage,” Carter said. “That was like, kind of like my biggest ‘we did it’ moment, because I'm a huge fan of Kesha.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the band kept their momentum going by working on a music video and live-streaming performances from venues like Jilly’s Music Room, Annabell’s and Stan Hywet.

“Stan Hywet, that was really cool for us, because we had like a whole production crew for that... a bunch of different camera angles and lights everywhere,” Konopka said.

Carter said the pandemic gave the band the opportunity to focus on writing songs and practicing, eventually helping them book gigs in other states.

“That did help us draw in new audiences and just perfect our craft,” she said.

Akron four-piece rock band Detention performs on stage
Ed Guzowsi
Detention has performed at the PorchROKR festival since 2016. Members have played together since elementary school and are noted for their high-energy performances of rock covers and original songs.

Returning to the PorchROKR stage

Carter and Dannemiller both come from musical families. Carter joined her father at the 2013 PorchROKR to sing a cover of “Hallelujah” when she was eight years old.

Akron band Detention's PorchROKR 2022 setlist
Amanda Rabinowitz
Ideastream Public Media
Members of Detention have kept every memento from their time as a band on display in their practice space, including their setlist from PorchROKR 2022.

“We wouldn't have gotten to the level that we are at now without not only the support but the direct involvement of my dad. And my mom does, too. She sells our merch,” Carter said. “And Luke's mom, actually, they partner together a lot of the time. Luke's mom has been a huge part of the band recently as well.”

Carter said their parents handle booking shows for the band, and eventually they’d like to hire a booking agent.

All four members of Detention are currently students, with Carter, Dannemiller and Konopka studying at Kent State in the fall and Cox attending Firestone High School as a junior.

“Ultimately, the plan is to get to the point of just being able to tour and play shows and have that be the job,” Carter said.

In 2016, Detention performed at the Highland Square music festival for the first time as a band.

Five years later, the band shut down an entire street during their 2021 PorchROKR performance.

“Cop cars were, like, coming through the street and then just getting swallowed by the crowd. It was the most ridiculous feeling in the world. I just immediately burst into tears the second that we were done playing, because it was such an overwhelming feeling,” Carter said.

The band members distributed flyers with their set time and location throughout the event, resulting in a large crowd that grew rapidly beyond the front yard in front of their stage and into the road.

“That was the first time that I had ever heard people shouting, screaming our lyrics back at me over my microphone, like I could literally hear the crowd louder than I could hear my own voice,” Carter said. “Hearing people shout the lyrics to a song that I wrote in my bedroom when I was 15 is wild. And it's happened at several shows since then. And just every time I don't take it for granted, I'm never any less blown away."

Detention plays PorchROKR’s main stage on Beck Avenue Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The band plans to record the performance for a live album.

Expertise: Audio storytelling, journalism and production
Brittany Nader is the producer of "Shuffle" on Ideastream Public Media. She joins "All Things Considered" host Amanda Rabinowitz on Thursdays to chat about Northeast Ohio’s vibrant music scene.