PJ Olsson’s Rock Camp delivers once again

HOUGHTON – Shortly after PJ Olsson’s Rock Camp wrapped up its performance at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts Saturday, Olsson was ready to call it a 100 percent success. Then he stopped himself.

“Even more than that – I say 200 percent,” he said. “I’m really proud of it. These kids, they really pull it off.”

Local youth spent two weeks learning the songs for the concert, which included both originals and an eclectic set of covers from the likes of Daft Punk, The White Stripes, Ben E. King and Fall Out Boy.

The action flowed seamlessly Saturday. Bigger productions on the main stage were broken up by intimate solo, duo or trio performances staged to the side of the stages.

“We were going to try to do band videos, but instead, we said, ‘Let’s go for the music,” PJ Olsson said. “We lifted the speakers up, which gave us these two spots, and we were like, ‘These will work for transitions.’ When they’re over there and it’s lit, you’ve got the whole stage darkened down. I think it really works.”

The night began with a cover of Icona Pop’s “I Love It” and closed with a group performance of The Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends,” ending with the campers filing through the auditorium and reconvening at the foot of the stage.

Cheyenne Kaufman, Daphne Maki, Marya Julio, Rachel Kauppila and Wynter Bethel also contributed original songs.

Guitarist James Peck played in the band Sanity, which performed songs such as Green Day’s “Wake Me Up When September Ends.” Friends of his have done it each year; this time, he was finally in town to participate.

“I was really surprised how smoothly everything fell together in the beginning,” he said. “The three songs we played as Sanity, we learned in a week. The other two bands I did, we learned the songs in four days. It was really a lot of fun.”