Second up was local folk/progressive quartet (and week 2's wild card) The Pesto Shirts, who played a 5 song mix of covers and originals, including songs like "Secret" and "Gypsy", and covers of Muse & Eurythmics tracks. Without giving away their score or placement, they clearly seemed to amp up their set for the finals, complete with a sizeable core of fans and a more determined presence (it was also fun seeing Steve Myers assist Alisa Borland on keyboard for part of a song!) Third last night was week 1 winners Late & Loud, and they clearly won the visual score with a nice big Japanese Rising Sun flag banner, a solid classic metal look (with departing guitarist Jon Tiberi channeling his Xanadu getup as well), the end-set smashing of Benn Garside's bass, and of course, their "Heavy Rockin' Hard Metal" re-release! Their abbreviated set included a Judas Priest cover and originals like "Never Again" and "Fast As A Bitch", and fans ate up their energy, interactions, and enthusiasm!
Haggith, who played a 6 song set featuring originals like "If You Get Out Alive" and "Wanko", including covers of Stone Temple Pilots and a throwback to the "Heavy Metal" movie soundtrack! Like The Pesto Shirts, they also turned in an amped up set of varied originals & covers that got their own fans going, and they seemed to prove themselves amongst the other competitors (also, kudos to them and their crew for singing along with "Chop Suey" between sets, that was pretty cool!) Capping off last night's lineup was week 2 winners The Suicide Kings, who played four newer originals for their very vocal fanbase (complete with signs), along with covers of Velvet Revolver, System of a Down, and Rage Against The Machine songs, and they put in a determined effort with some good hard rocking energy! I do think they could have been more interactive with their fans, but honestly, they were sparked the whole way through, so maybe it wasn't needed.
After The Suicide Kings wrapped up, the judges (Case's Music's Jay Case, The Rad Zone's Len Ward, and myself) tabulated the scores, and I'll emphasize right now that unlike the semifinals, the scores were NOT clear cut, and we all had wildly different scores and rankings for the 5 finalist bands. Without giving away individual scores, what I will say is that every band scored in the 70s or higher on the judges' individual scorecards, each band finished at least second on a judge's individual rankings, and while there were thankfully no ties like last year, 4 of the 5 bands were separated by just 10 points. With bands of this calibre and talent, there really was no losers, but who claimed first, second, and third place? Here are the winners from last night!
1st place: The Suicide Kings
2nd place: Haggith
3rd place: The Pesto Shirts
And for Late & Loud and The Bear Hunters, you guys played great sets too, no one scored you low at all, and you both put in winning efforts! The Bear Hunters still secured their best ever battle finish (and will be quite visible this summer), and Late & Loud's set was still a triumph for their fans and a fitting send-off for Jon Tiberi! I don't know what their future holds, but I hope this won't be the last time we'll see them together on stage! And for the The Suicide Kings, the guys put in two consistent and very tight efforts this month to claim first place, and they have quite a following, so I see big things for them in the local scene going forward, and hopefully this is just the next step in their local ascension! Congratulations again to Mike, Steven, Mitch, and Ben for their win, and just on a personal note, huge thanks to Jay, Len, J.D., Carrie, Hayley, and Martin for all of their hospitality, assistance, and kind words over the past month! It was honour to judge a local battle of the bands again, and I hope to get the call to judge again in the future! Also, thanks to Giwakwa, The Northern Tragedy, Sarah's Valley, and Sykotyk Rampage for their strong efforts in the semifinals, you all have big things ahead as well!
As this was the finals, and a bigger night, I decided to go above & beyond for my videos, so I filmed the first TWO of each band! To close our recap, here's (in chronological order) The Bear Hunters playing "Dominate" & "Succumb To Eternity" (complete with and introductory cover of "Teddy Bear's Picnic"), The Pesto Shirts playing Muse's "Sing For Absolution" & their song "Secrets", Late & Loud playing "Trouble" & "Machine Gun Maiden", Haggith playing The Stone Temple Pilots' "Trippin' On A Hole In A Paper Heart" & their song "Rage Train", and The Suicide Kings playing their songs "Way Out Of Hell" & "Take Me Away"! (Apologies to them for the visibility, fans on the floor often got in the way.)
That's all for today, but stay tuned TOMORROW for weekend concert previews, and hopefully this month's Saultites In Out Of Town Bands Profile as well! Thanks everyone! (And yes, I'll have some more in depth thoughts on the re-released Late & Loud EP soon as well!)