Niagara Gazette — Penque said the band brought real music back to Niagara Falls at a time when the city was drawing nobodies and lower-quality cover bands as entertainment.
"I would say we brought music back to Niagara Falls," he said. "For a while, the local music scene was just cover bands. But we started bringing in national recording bands to Niagara Falls to play with us. We brought in the heavier bands."
In fact, the group's first show was opening up for Sevendust, a popular hard rock band out of Atlanta, Ga. They went on to have many other live shows with some of that era's big names, including opening up for Run DMC in Fredonia in 2000 or 2001 (nobody in the band could remember the actual date).
But it was one show in particular which Cafarella said left a lasting impression on him and shaped his career and style as a musician. It was Dec. 7, 2004, and STEMM was on stage opening up for the band Damageplan. The group wasn't a superstar band, but a couple of its members were previously part of the rock band Pantera, including guitarist Darrell Abbott.
Abbott, otherwise known as "Dimebag Darrell," was a hero to Cafarella, who watched the successful musician carry himself. He observed the lack of ego and intensity that radiated off Abbott throughout the night. Then he was horrified to find out just one night after leaving the Buffalo stage behind, Abbott was shot and killed while on stage in Columbus, Ohio.
"We've shared the stage with a lot of bands I look up to," Cafarella said. "They defined who I was as a musician. Playing with and meeting Slayer was a big deal with me. Also, sharing the stage with Damageplan was huge.
"There was a rule. You couldn't be at a Damageplan or Pantera show without a beer in your hand. (Abbott) would walk around and find people who weren't drinking and ask them 'How come you ain't drinking.' I watched him hand one guy a beer out of his own hand.