Oliver, Owen, Peyton and Ava are plugged into amps and fidgety in the brothers’ Millstadt basement. Oliver can’t stop lightly strumming his guitar while Peyton hums to herself, dancing along to the song in her head. Owen is hidden behind the stacks of cymbals but can be heard tapping, and Ava keeps giggling.
Finally, the adults have the sound equipment set up, and OOPA launches into the song that begins every set the classic rockers have: “Back in the U.S.S.R.”
OOPA — that’s Oliver, 13, and Owen, 10, Renneker, of Millstadt, Peyton Long, 9, of Belleville, and Ava Hoagland, 10, of Waterloo — has a set from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday at Papa Vito’s, 318 E Washington St., Belleville.
Their set selection is heavy on The Beatles, at the behest of their parents and because their first show together was a Beatles show. They’ve had several shows since, enough to keep their parents busy with bookings and the website.
“That is not the kids’ preference,” said Trisha Hoagland, Ava’s mom.
“But they’re digging it now because they’re good at it,” said Becki Renneker.
The kids prefer belting out AC/DC and a little Nirvana.
“A lot of people like pop stuff, but we wanted to do rock stuff,” Ava said.
The kids ran through several songs Monday night during one of their three weekly practices. The four honed their skills at School of Rock in Kirkwood, but only Peyton continues lessons there on a scholarship.
Oliver, Peyton and Ava all picked their instruments, but the drums picked Owen.
“It turned out that he’s made to play the drums,” Becki said.
Owen wasn’t quite sure what mom might have meant by that.
“I like that I can hit things, because I can’t ...” he started to say as the adults in the room groaned and his band mates laughed.
Peyton plays the bass guitar and sings.
“I’ve been singing since I could think,” she said, as the boys jokingly disputed the truth to that. In addition to the money they enjoy from their paying gigs, Peyton and Ava like that they get to help people. Their proceeds sometimes go to food pantries or to animal shelters.
In April, they’ll be playing at the Belleville Area Humane Society 5K, and at the American Cancer Society Walk in May. They’ll soon play at Gallagher’s Restaurant in Waterloo, as a fundraiser for St. Vincent de Paul and House of Neighborly Services in Waterloo.
But the Papa Vito’s gig is entirely for them.
“I want to be in a band,” Oliver said of his future plans. “You get money, and play music.”