For our 29th straight day of new SMS posts, we're focusing entirely on next month's Rockstar Bar Battle of the Bands, as the final lineup and schedules for each night have been posted, hence we have LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS today! As you may remember, bands will compete in semifinal battle rounds at The Rockstar Bar on April 3rd, 10th, and 17th before the finals on April 24th, and despite early hopes for as many as 15 bands, the battle will instead have 9, with three bands each on the first three Wednesdays of April, and the winning bands each week going on to the finals on the 24th. As a result, there'll be no wild card finalist entries (barring an unlikely finalist band withdrawal.) We knew of 5 of the bands via their own public confirmations of their involvement, and the other 4 were announced via the Facebook event page yesterday, complete with what day they're competing.
Remember, as I'm one of the judges (joining Case's Music's James Case & The Rad Zone's Len Ward), I will not be critiquing any of the bands in relation to their battle sets or predicting outcomes, out of fairness and impartiality to all competing acts, which I did for last year's Humane Society Battle as well. The photo inclusions aren't slighting anyone on purpose either, I'm just trying to spread things out and keep the order roughly alphabetical. Without any further adieu, here's each day's lineup!
Haggith! The local grunge/alternative rock quartet will make their first Rockstar Bar appearance next week as one of the first 3 battle competitors, in what I think will be the members' first individual local battle tries! Fresh off of the release of their limited edition "For The Cause" EP, will the guys ride their recent momentum to a finals slot next week? The other two bands next week are new confirmations, including prominent classic metal quartet Late & Loud! The only band next month to have won a prior local battle of the bands (last year's Humane Society Battle), this will mark their first live set since November's EP release gig, and just their third show since their initial battle win. Plus, members Benn Garside & Josh Hatherley took fourth place with The Glass Statues at 2009's YMCA Battle, and Josh drummed with Behind Society at the 2008 Case's Music Battle, so there's no shortage of battle experience for these guys!
However, there will be a bittersweet air to their return, as if Late & Loud don't make the finals, next week will mark their last show for a long while (perhaps ever?) with singer/guitarist Jonathan Tiberi, as he's apparently planning to move back to Southern Ontario later this spring, as per postings on his personal Facebook page, though no word yet if it's back to his hometown of Welland or not. This is really surprising, as he's a very talented multi-instrumentalist, and this would leave a void in no less than four local bands (Late & Loud, Lazer Queen, Pillory, and The Daybreak Johnnies), but hopefully Jon finds success in whatever comes next when he does leave the Soo, and hopefully all of his local bands will survive in some form! That said, can he go out on top with a second local battle win for Late & Loud? They and Haggith will also be going up against a new band (as far as I can tell) named Sarah's Valley, and I admit that I know nothing on them. All I know is that they registered for the battle at Case's Music, and I can't find any information on them online to verify their membership, sound, or anything.
This isn't foreign territory, as we've encountered bands that had not publically launched before a battle of the bands before (remember Tiny Trebuchet at the Kiss Battle?) Plus, if they are indeed a new project, don't count them out, as Sense of Truth & Bring The Fallen are proof that a debuting band can win a battle of the bands, so when we hear some confirmation on anything relating to Sarah's Valley, I will be sure to let you guys know!
The April 10th battle semifinal round will see three more local bands gathering to compete, two of which we've previously confirmed, including local punk trio The Northern Tragedy! No strangers to The Rockstar Bar, they have been a steady live sight in recent months, and they also bring some battle experience to the table via singer/drummer Terrence Gomes, who played at the Algoma University Battle in 2009 with Creedon & The Animal Detectives and last year's Battle For The Blood with Changing Waves. Can their energetic punk sound carry them to the finals? Among the bands they'll be up against on the 10th, the newly confirmed band is The Pesto Shirts, an acoustic/folk/jazz rock outfit that have been active since last year, which included sets at Rotaryfest and other notable concerts! This will also be their live concert debut as a quartet, following the addition of Blues Harvest frontman Jake Rendell on drums, who has experience as a metal frontman way back in his local music repetoire with Garage Inc.
While somewhat of an outlier compared to the other competing bands, they have a lot of talent & chemistry, and both Jake & guitarist/pianist Steve Myers are no stranger to recent local battle success, with Steve winning the 2008 Skid Row Battle with former local metal standouts Sense of Truth, who (along with Jake & Blues Harvest) also made the finals of the Kiss Battle the next year! Can The Pesto Shirts fly to victory over their electric competitors in two weeks? The other April 10th band is local hard rock quartet The Suicide Kings, making their own return to The Rockstar Bar in the midst of their own building local success! Fresh off of the recording sessions for their forthcoming debut EP, they have battle-tested members as well, with both guitarist Steven Flint & bassist Mitch Sirie competing at last year's Humane Society battle (with Steven placing third with Wishbone, and Mitch finishing a point away from tying them with The Bear Hunters.) Can The Suicide Kings build on those finishes with a finals berth on April 10th?
The final semifinal round will take place on April 17th, and metalheads might be drawn to this night the most thanks to all three bands skewing heavier, including the aforementioned Bear Hunters! Featuring The Suicide Kings' Mitch Sirie in a melodic death metal environment, this prominent quintet will play just their second local show since last summer, in what will be their Rockstar Bar debut! As mentioned above, it'll be their second local battle appearance, though their lineup is loaded with battle experience, with members Justin Lam & Johnny Belanger having done well in recent battles with bands like D.O.T.H. & Operation: Killdozer. Can they make the finals and top last year's narrow miss from the podium? Bear Hunters guitarist Josh Stephney will be a busy guy on the 17th though, as his new local death/sludge metal quartet Giwakwa will make their live concert debut at the battle that night! Featuring Josh on vocals alongside veteran local guitarist Chris Page, Josh's ex-Bring The Fallen bandmate Nolan Rainville, and Frightlight drummer Chris Thompson, these guys bring a mix of new and old influences and backgrounds to the table, after a long path to their first live appearance!
Plus, Josh & Nolan have a pile of battle success under their belts from the Bring The Fallen days, with that band winning three battles out of four entered in 2009 & 2010 (though Nolan missed their last win.) Is their reunion in Giwakwa the key to another successful battle finish? While simple math favours one of Josh's bands making the finals, there's another group that could overcome those odds, that being the original crash band, Sykotyk Rampage! This creatively original alternative/blues rock quartet will make their first Rockstar Bar appearance in three years on April 17th, in what will be their third competitive battle appearance (having competed at the Kiss Battle in 2009 & placed 3rd at the Sault College Battle in 2010), though they played at last year's Humane Society Battle out of competition. Plus, bassist Tony Briglio has a second place battle finish under his belt with The Fury at 2010's Downtown Showdown, but can Sykotyk Rampage return to the upper echelon on April 17th with their improvised and prolific original sound?
LET ME KNOW! Thanks everyone!