Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Sault Humane Society Battle Of The Bands Recap, Results, And Videos!!

Before we get to my battle of the bands recap, I wanted to extend our deepest condolences to the family & friends of Northern Storm Records owner Rob "Rab" Cranny, who passed away yesterday at the age of 27. While not from the Soo, Rab was a well known figure in the Southern Ontario metal community from his work as a label owner & musician (including with the comedy metal project Detsorgsekalf), and from what I understand, he was an extremely kind and funny person that touched many lives. Woods of Ypres fans may be aware of Rab from his recent links to David Gold tributes, including seeing bands on his label play at the David Gold tribute show in Toronto, along with Northern Storm's involvement in releasing the upcoming David Gold tribute album, which Rab was scheduled to sing "Suicide Cargoload" on. David's old band Will of the Ancients were also signed to Northern Storm Records in the mid-late 2000s. I didn't know Rab at all, but I definitely was very aware of him and what he's done for Ontario metal, and I've never heard anyone say a bad word about him. He was definitely taken from us way too soon, that's for sure. R.I.P. Rab!

Now, let's discuss Friday night's Sault Humane Society Battle of the Bands at The Grand Theater! I'm not going to give this event a review in the traditional sense, because I was in a different position beyond "the SMS guy in the crowd with the camera." I didn't promote this openly before the battle, but I was one of the judges! I was asked by battle organizer Dirk Becker from Sykotyk Rampage if I was interested in volunteering as a judge last month, and I kindly accepted, but just to stay on the safe & impartial side of things, I didn't announce it at all. My fellow judges last night were former Browbeat frontman Dutch Vanderploeg and local solo guitarist Mike Cliffe, and we were assisted by Dirk's niece Stephanie in tallying results and deciding the award winners. I think there was a solid judging panel with fair and qualified choices to judge, and at last night's battle, we were perched up on the balcony to see everything from a clear angle while we judged the proceedings. I've never seen a concert from the balcony like this, but it was an interesting vantage point, if nothing else! Before the battle began, the bands drew numbers out of a hat to decide their performance order, with the exception of The Bear Hunters, who were slotted first by default due to drummer Johnny Belanger's set with Caveman Morrison later that night.

Basswerx Recording Studio was on hand to provide sound, and they did a great job through the night with all of the bands! The opening band last night was the original crash band themselves, Sykotyk Rampage, and though they weren't competing in the battle itself, it at least leaves me free to properly critique their set! They delivered a fun set of songs like "Lit'le Crocochild", "Sex Toy Oh My Baby", and "Treating You Bad" for the fans in attendance, and their improvised take on alternative hard rock and blues is always a fun listen at a local concert! It was also good to see Brian Cattapan on bass again (he was absent the last time I saw the band live), though he didn't seem as animated on stage as he has in the past. Sykotyk Rampage's music isn't for everyone, but it was as fun and creative as I expected it would be! Note that they played a second set of their drinking songs after the last competing band wrapped up, but we were sequestered to judge the battle itself during their second set, so I can't comment on most of it firsthand, but I saw them do "Drinking on the Weekend" and they rocked it for sure!

Now to the battle competitors itself, and I won't spend too much time on them individually for two reasons: They still only had 15 minute sets, and I don't wanna go into great detail about my judging preferences. I want to keep things fair and impartial without publically highlighting anything negative or showing a preferential bias, and I entered the battle with as much of a blank slate as I could so I could judge each band fairly. The opening band was local death metal quintet The Bear Hunters, who unveiled their new logo on Mitch Sirie's guitar and were decked out in effectively bloody white t-shirts. Their set included songs like "Collapse The Sun" and their newer original "Deception", and the fans up front definitely seemed to enjoy their set! They were followed by classic metal quartet Late & Loud, who unleashed originals like "Machine Gun Maiden" and "Whisper of the Damned" on their fans, and they shown a lot of energy and enthusiasm to match their 1980s-inspired sound, look, and atmosphere! Third on the bill would have been local indie trio Cowboys & Indians, but they were absent from the event after bassist Alex White couldn't make it. Disappointing for sure, as their collective talent and past battle successes would definitely have helped them on Friday!

With their absence, local punk quartet T-Rex Manning rushed to take the third slot at the battle. While I've seen 3/4ths of their lineup as the one-off band Pools of Booze, this was the first time I've ever seen T-Rex Manning live, and without going into detail from my judging, they reminded me of a more punk-based variant of singer J.D. Pearce's other bands. Their set was covers heavy, including two Misfits songs and a Blink-182 cover (I think), and their paint splattered suits added to their look well! Local rock quartet Wishbone followed them with a set of their diverse original songs like the new track "Heartbeat", and they shown their talent well with some nice energy, especially from frontman Dennis Duguay! Fifth was local hardcore quintet As It Stands, who definitely attracted the biggest crowd up front of any of the bands on Friday! Their set featured originals like "Embay the Terrible" (now I actually have the right spelling) and their new track "David & Goliath", and their energy and talent seemed to get the right reactions and response! The two Desbarats death metal bands followed them, starting with For All That Is Lost, whose masked look fit with their brutality, and while I won't go into detail with my scores, they're improving quickly! Their set included original songs like "Blood Law" and "Tenth Commandment".

Next was Desbarats death metal quartet Inhuman Methods, and they played two originals (one of which had a callback to a retro cartoon) and a Lamb of God cover during their set. Without giving away my scores and thoughts, they definitely built on their debut in February, though vocal timing is still an issue, particularly on their cover. The Valentine's Day Massacre (pictured) were the penultimate band, and they blasted originals like "Make Death Wait" and "Vampiric" while demonstrating some energetic moves and interaction, mixing death metal and hardcore well! The battle ended softly with local acoustic folk duo Tea With Lincoln, whose talented material and originals (like "Locked Box") somehow encouraged a large circle pit! Though not a genre match with the other bands, the night ended well, and while Sykotyk Rampage partied with their drinking songs, me, Dutch, Mike, and Stephanie deliberated on the award winners in the projection booth. After "Drinking on the Weekend" wrapped up, we went up to the stage, where Dirk thanked the bands and sponsors, and announced the winners, starting with the individual awards! For the first time since the Case's Music battles dried up in 2009, a Sault Ontario battle had awards beyond just the top ranked acts, but who won what? Read on below!

Best Vocals: Dennis Duguay (Wishbone)
Best Guitar: Andrew Angelic (The Valentine's Day Massacre)
Best Bass: Justin Lam (The Bear Hunters)
Best Drums: Kameron Nicholson (For All That Is Lost)
Best Audience: As It Stands
Best Ensemble: Late & Loud
Best Sound: T-Rex Manning
Best Headbanging: Inhuman Methods
Best Mosh Pit: Tea With Lincoln

We came to fairly quick conclusions for the individual awards, though you'll notice that every band got one of these awards in this category. That was out of fairness to ensure that every band won something, and each band or musician got a creatively designed trophy as a result! Late & Loud smashed their "Best Ensemble" trophy, but they were pumped up as it was. In case you guys are curious, I'll say that 6 of the 9 individual awards went to our original choices before we evened everything out, but we agreed that every winner deserved their award, and nothing was a compromise choice based on what was left over! Of course, if you weren't there, the fact that Tea With Lincoln won "Best Mosh Pit" might seem very odd, but they honestly had the only solidly active mosh pit at the battle, and they were 100% the deserving winners! After the individual awards were announced and handed out, the top three bands received their awards, but what did they get? All three bands got trophies, but first place also received studio time, a hat, and a pair of headphones, and second place received a gift certificate to the Delta Waterfront Hotel. The results were extremely close (more on that in a second), but here's the final results for the top 3:

1st Place: Late & Loud*
2nd Place: As It Stands
3rd Place: Wishbone*

We mostly agreed on the results for the top 3, but I have to emphasize something, as the results were EXTREMELY close (that's what the asterisks are for.) According to our scoresheets, we actually had As It Stands & Late and Loud tied for first place, and not only that, but Wishbone were tied with For All That Is Lost and The Valentine's Day Massacre for third place too! That, and the sixth place band was actually one point away from forcing a four-way tie for third, and I'm dead serious. We had a tie for first and a three-way tie for third, it was that competitive and close at the battle, which I've never heard of happening before. When we were deliberating the top three, we had to make a lot of tough choices, so just in case anyone's disappointed with their finish, remember that the results of this battle could have been thrown upside down with just an extra point for any of the top 6 bands. That's a testament to how equally talented the bands were and how even the competition was, and that's very nice to see! Personally, I'd have advocated a play-off or audience vote for the tiebreakers, but I hope we made the right call to break the deadlocks. I will give a special shoutout to T-Rex Manning though, as J.D. was vocally expressing his hope last night to either finish dead last or be disqualified. I won't publically disclose the latter half of the results, but I will say that you were last in our hearts!

So with their razor close victory, Late & Loud have won their first battle, and band members Benn Garside & Josh Hatherley have improved on their 3rd place finish with The Glass Statues at the YMCA battle in March 2009 by claiming first three years later! Their energy, look, old school sound, and enthusiasm prevailed, and though I had fears going in that their lack of a real singer would cost them, they overcame that flawlessly! As It Stands did awesome too, and you guys shouldn't be disappointed with the finish, it literally could have been decided by a coin flip, it was that close! Wishbone's close third place finish sees them return to the upper echelon of a battle, following the Kiss battle in late 2009, which 3/4ths of their current lineup made the finals in with Wishbone & Flat Stanley. $600 was raised for the Humane Society at last night's battle, which is awesome, and though attendance wasn't as big as organizers were hoping, there are apparently hopes to make this battle annual, which would be awesome! Since the Bon Soo & Case's Music battles ended, there hasn't been anything firmly scheduled year to year in Sault Ontario, so hopefully we get another one from the Humane Society next year!

Thanks to all of the bands for their performances, along with Northland Music, The Rad Zone, Music Depot, the Delta Waterfront Hotel, Rock 101, Sports Gold, Fuzednotions Creative Studio, Scott, Steve, and Jim from Basswerx, The Grand Theater, Northeast Security, West 49, Coch's Corner, and Sykotyk Rampage for their support in making the event possible, sponsoring or donating prizes, and helping out on Friday! I also wanna thank Dutch, Mike, and Stephanie for their input and hard work last night, I was impressed with their opinions and professionalism from start to finish, and I'd be honoured to judge with them again if the call came! Same goes for the dropped out bands, it'd have been cool to see them compete if possible, but their interest in the event was awesome! It's been far too long to see a Sault Ontario battle of the bands, and I hope it won't be another two years until the next one! Congratulations again to the winners, and to close this post, while I forgone photos due to my judging, I did get videos!

I got the first song by each competing band (including the non-metal bands) to stay impartial and fair given the nature of the event and my role, though note that I got all these on a tripod with no zooming so I could focus on judging over filming. So here's (in performance order) Sykotyk Rampage playing their song "Li'l Crocochild", The Bear Hunters' original "Deception", Late & Loud's song "Whisper of the Damned", T-Rex Manning's cover of The Misfits' "Bullet", Wishbone's new track "Heartbeat", As It Stands' song "Embay The Terrible" (and the instrumental intro that preceded it), F.A.T.I.L.'s original "Blood Law", Inhuman Methods' song "Inside", The Valentine's Day Massacre's track "Make Death Wait", and Tea With Lincoln's original "Locked Box"!

That's all for now, but stay tuned for a new news post hopefully soon! Thanks everyone!


Glen "the Freq" said...

Thanks for the support and coverage of the event Rob. I didn't notice any other media coverage for the event, which is sad, so I'm sure I speak for all the bands in the show that we appreciate the press coverage and vids you captured from this fund raiser ;-)

Glen "the Freq" (Wishbone)

The Sault Metal Scene said...

It's no problem at all, Glen! I was planning to go before getting the call to judge, and I would have given the event the same good press and attention no matter my role! It was a fun night, and I hope to be able to judge another battle in the future!