Arts & Culture
7:57 am
Fri August 8, 2014

Be Loud! Chapel Hill's Pressure Boys Reunite For Special Reason

Sophie Steiner, self portrait
Sophie Steiner, self portrait
Credit Sophie Steiner

When Sophie Steiner was 13, she wrote a poem. The title was “Be Loud.”

Here's an excerpt:

… Be loud
And move with grace
Explode with light
Have no fear…

Those words would become a metaphor for her life. When she was 14, Sophie was diagnosed with cancer. It was the fall of her freshman year at East Chapel Hill High. She did six rounds of chemotherapy, and spent months in a pediatric cancer ward before succumbing to her illness. She died one year ago, August 30, 2013.

Before she died, Sophie had an idea. She wanted to figure out a way to help adolescent and young adult cancer patients at UNC Hospitals. Her idea was to help other kids with cancer figure out how to continue to be themselves, even while facing an uncertain future. (Sophie honed her photography skills during her illness and she blogged.)

Sophie's family has now formed the Be Loud! Sophie Foundation, and the foundation is sponsoring a weekend of concerts, August 8 and 9. Be Loud 14, true to Sophie's wishes, will raise funds to give "adolescent and young adult cancer patients a greater sense of independence, dignity, empowerment, privacy and identity."

Much of the action happens at Cat's Cradle in Carrboro. The headline act is a band that Sophie's dad Niklaus was a fan of when he was a teen, Chapel Hill's The Pressure Boys.

"The Pressure Boys were absolutely our hometown heroes," Niklaus recalls. "If they were playing Rhythm Alley ... whatever, everyone showed up. ... I think we all prided ourselves in listening to so-called 'alternative music' when it truly was alternative."

This is only the second time the group has reunited since their popularity in the 80's. There is a lot of buzz around the event.

"Somehow this has struck a chord with people who remember that time, who maybe lived in Chapel Hill, who just want to rally around the community and around local music. It's been very very inspiring and very moving," Niklaus Steiner said.

>> Look at the schedule of events.

The Pressure Boys Rehearsing, May 2014
The Pressure Boys Rehearsing, May 2014
Credit Jonathan Drake