Liverpool When the second annual First Night celebration was staged last New Year’s Eve at Onondaga Lake Park, some 7,000 Central New Yorkers — including hundreds of young families enjoying a non-alcoholic holiday alternative — turned out to ring in 2012.
Instead of being inspired by hope for the New Year, however, many attending families were outraged when main-stage headliners the New Boyz, a rap act from Southern California, delivered a suggestive and profanity-laced performance.
To prevent another such incident this Dec. 31, First Night organizers have hired R5, a pop quintet from Colorado whose young musicians have ties to the Walt Disney Company. Guitarist Ross Lynch — one of four Lynch siblings in R5 — stars in the hit Disney Channel sitcom “Austin and Ally.” Bassist Riker Lynch has a recurring role in Fox TV’s musical drama, “Glee.”
“After what happened last year, we made a conscious decision to hire a band that would definitely be family-friendly,” said First Night coordinator Pam Levine of the Galaxy Events Company. “Last year — even though our contract was very specific about the kind of clean show we wanted — that’s not what we got.”
Instead, Galaxy got what one audience member called “absolutely appalling vulgarity” from the New Boyz whose 2011 hits included titles like “Tie Me Down,” “Backseat” and “Better with the Lights Off.”
R5, on the other hand, released an EP entitled “Ready Set Rock,” and a single called “Say You’ll Stay.”
“We’re so concerned with our First Night families that we went to Disney because we know this band is going to be clean,” Levine said. “‘Austin and Ally’ is very popular with the tween crowd, and parents know that, and parents will know they don’t have to worry about this concert.”
Inspired by bands such as Green Day, R5 founder Rocky Lynch took up the electric guitar in his family’s hometown of Littleton, Colo. He later taught younger brother Ross to play guitar and Riker to play the bass. Sister Rydel plays the piano, and in October 2009 the family met drummer Ellington Ratliff at a dance studio. Adding their final member, whose last name started with an R, they named the band R5. All five musicians are age 21 or younger.