Thursday, April 25, 2013

Rockstar Bar Battle of the Bands Finals Recap!!

Hey guys, it's finally time for our recap of last night's final round of The Rockstar Bar Battle of the Bands, and after three weeks of exciting semifinal action, each winning band (plus two wild cards) convened one last time at The Rockstar Bar for all of the marbles! Like the past three weeks, I will NOT be giving the full scores of the bands, nor will I personally critique or review the performances, as I was judging. Instead, like before, I'll just recap the performances and results, out of respect to all involved. Aside from Craig West returning from week 2 to do sound yesterday, and the increased number of bands, the setup was about the same, so check out our recaps of the past weeks for additional details. After a random drawing, the first finalist band to take the stage was week 3 winners The Bear Hunters, who increased their camouflage hunter look for their 5 song set of melodic death metal, including tracks like "Karma", "Render This Void", and the amusing return of guitarist Mitch Sirie's solo track "Squirrel Buddy"! However, the crowd for their set was clearly not as good as last week, which I chalk up as a combination of them going on first, and the crowd not being there for a ⅔rds death metal lineup like last week.

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!

Fourth on the bill was grunge rockers (and week 1's wild card) 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

Congratulations to The Suicide Kings on securing their first ever battle of the bands win, and as a result of their victory, they won $1,000, 5 hours of recording time at Case's Music, and a guaranteed opening slot at one of J.D. Pearce's upcoming concerts (to be determined.) They also won a trophy each for their victory, and this has to be a huge boost for this still new local band! For taking second place, Haggith claimed $200, medals for their finish, a $50 Rad Zone gift card, and another guaranteed concert opening slot, while The Pesto Shirts won $100 and, a concert slot, and medals. Late & Loud and The Bear Hunters walked out with framed certificates for their participation, which double as 20%-off coupons for Case's Music purchases, which the top 3 bands also won. I'll admit that the final results were a big surprise from how I assumed they would go, but while I won't reveal my predictions or full thoughts on last night's bands, I will single out Haggith & The Pesto Shirts for not just being happy to be there as wild cards. Both bands came prepared with better overall sets, they didn't rest on their laurels, and they made things very interesting and stomped on any predictions that might have been made pre-battle!

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!)

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