Savannah’s annual A.U.R.A. Fest (All Underground Rock All Day) may be a month away, but fans of heavy and progressive music will be able to get a sampling of the event with a pre-show at El-Rocko Lounge on Jan. 18.

The A.U.R.A. Fest pre-show is headlined by Orlando quintet Makari, who are hitting the road in support of their impressive debut album “Hyperreal” (InVogue Records). Makari, who are heavily influenced by bands like Circa Survive, have been kicking around for six years, touring and recording a few EPs, but they have taken their sound to soaring new heights with the recent addition of vocalist Andy Cizek.

 

“Andy was able to give us a different element, and, honestly, elevated our sound,” drummer Kevin Beljan said. “Having him on board has been a blessing. He has his own creative input and ideas and he’s a talented vocalist, so I think he was able to give us a different dimension and elevate the total sound of the band.”

“Hyperreal” was produced by Andrew Wade, who perfectly balances Beljan and bassist John Tomasso’s heavy, head-bobbing groove and Matt Beljan and Eric Stewart’s shimmering, ambient guitars with Cizek’s emotionally powerful and heart-rending voice.

“It deals with feelings of loss and existential dread,” Beljan said. “‘Hyperreal’ and the title track are about wanting to go back and be part of a different reality, a hyper-reality that’s not real, that’s made up.When you go back to your memories you kind of romanticize it, where you can make it out to be better than it was. It’s about the desire to go back and re-live those moments that you imagine are perfect.”

The response to the album since its release in August has been overwhelmingly positive with glowing reviews and inspiring fan testimonials. “If our music does anything positive for someone, it’s always just so kind and it makes me feel like what we’re doing is worth some of the struggle and has value,” Beljan added.

 

Also on the bill are Softspoken, a post-hardcore band from Kentucky, who are supporting Makari on their current tour. Softspoken have also benefited from a change in personnel with the addition of vocalist Sam Scheuer and drummer Myka Meeks. Having finished promoting their extended EP, “Pathways,”which received heavy Spotify playlist support, Softspoken are moving into their next phase with a new single, “Begin Again,” and an upcoming debut album produced by Matt Goldman (Underoath, As Cities Burn). Also, although the season is over, you might check out their cover of Faith Hill’s “Where Are You Christmas?”

The A.U.R.A. Fest pre-show has some local representation, as well, with Savannah indie bands Any Otherwise and Coast Visions. It should be noted that Coast Visions, the music alias of Brent Collins, has a new album, the dreamy sounding “Lost at Sea,” coming out March 5 and it is available for pre-order on bandcamp.com.

If you like what you see at the pre-show, learn about the line-up for February’s A.U.R.A. Fest at aurafestsavannah.com.

   

Pick up a free copy of Do Savannah on Feb. 14 for a preview of this year’s A.U.R.A. Fest.