VM Radio Battle of the Bands opening night! As I was one of the judges, this will not be a review with personal judgements or criticism of the 3 competing bands, instead just a post to recap what happened and was observed by all. The setup at the battle was nice though, featuring a merchandise table for Tidal Records and plenty of banners for event sponsors, while Maxx Entertainment's Greg Simpson was on hand to provide solid sound for last night and the rounds to come! After a random draw to determine the band order, local folk/garage band Honest Job took the stage first last night, making their first local concert appearance in 14 months, as well as their first live concert appearance as a quintet, now featuring Jared Fridy on bass. Their set was comprised entirely of originals (save for a cover of Dick Dale's "Pipeline"), and included songs like "Waterslide" and "Page of Cups" from their "Numbers Game" EP.
Honest Job also showcased a unique sound featuring accordion work from frontman Mister Tahti that seemed to get a positive reception from early fans, and they had more of a rock sound than I recalled from the last time I saw them live, though activity on the floor wasn't too prominent yet. They were followed by newer local hard rock trio Infamous in just their second ever promoted concert (that I've heard about, at least), and they were admittedly still a bit of an enigma thanks to their lack of an online page, so what did we learn? Their lineup still features singer Lizzie Pearson, guitarist Damon King, and Them's Anthony Boudreau on drums (no bassist yet, which was sometimes very noticeable), and their all-cover set included renditions of bands like Bon Jovi, Asking Alexandria, and Halestorm, among others. Infamous got a better group of fans on the floor though, and hopefully this set was a good step in their development!
The Bear Hunters in their first set of the year, who played a seven song set including their songs "The Omen", their newest "Neckbreaker", and their CD's title track "Collapse The Sun". The guys easily got the best crowd of the night, complete with a bunch of headbangers and a few mini-mosh pits, but did they do enough to win? Fans would find out after the last set of the night, as Tidal Records' newest signing The Pixo Control played a special non-competitive guest set to fill out the 4 band lineup, allowing me to revert to my usual reviewer/photographer mode for their set! Rocking an energetic set of originals like "Vicinity", "Alphabetical Order", and "Call Me A Liar" (plus their slowed down "Twist 'N Shout" cover), the guys showed off their clear skill and talent to a solid group of fans, with Michael Mikus' stage presence and Kurt Cobain-inspired vocals nicely meshing with Steve Edwards & Keeghan Rosso's solid rhythm!
The Pixo Control are making fans fast in the local scene, and it definitely showed last night with their skilled originals and stage presence (complete with an amusing hyped-up intro from a friend), and if The Pixo Control were actually competing in the battle, they'd likely have been strong challengers in the final tally! After their set, battle promoter J.D. Pearce took the stage to announce the winners of night #1, as the judges chose.....
...The Bear Hunters!! The death metal veterans were the last band to qualify for the Rockstar Bar Battle finals 2 years ago and they're the first band to do the same this time around, so they have ensured themselves a top 4 finish for the second time in their four-battle resume! We'll see them again at the finals on March 25th (complete with some teased "surprises"), and while I won't reveal anything else regarding the scores or placement at this time, I will say that the judges didn't unanimously agree on the band order. Congratulations though to Honest Job and Infamous for their sets too, they put in strong efforts in their own right, and we'll know in 2 weeks whether one of them is the wild card or not! The crew from SooToday and Local2 were on hand last night, with Donna Hopper capturing 19 photos at the battle, including 5 photos each of The Bear Hunters & Honest Job, 4 of Infamous, 2 of The Pixo Control, and one each of the judges, J.D., and Tidal Records business cards. Though all black & white, they're great as usual, so give them a look at this link!
Also, look for Local2's video coverage of night #1 in the coming days, as video cameras were rolling throughout the night. Fans can also see if The Bear Hunters can continue their hot streak at local battles at TONIGHT'S Speak Easy Battle of the Bands, which also features Gnaeus, Mike Haggith & The Din, and Project 421 from the March 18th lineup, plus fellow local acts Infinity Grinder, Jesse Merineau, and Long Shot. I plan on attending, so check the above link for more info on this battle! It was great to be involved in another local battle, so thanks to everyone at Village Media and Tidal Records for their hospitality, and I can't wait for next week's semifinals! Of course, we'll see The Danger Cats, Haggith, Mannapool, and Stereo North battle for the second finals spot this coming Wednesday (March 11th), and I hope we'll see everyone out next week for night #2!
We'll close today with videos (which you can see on our Facebook page, alongside our Pixo Control photos), and remember, the competing bands were filmed with the camera stationary on a tripod, as I was judging. Here's Honest Job playing their song "Queen St.", Infamous covering Sixx A.M.'s "This Is Gonna Hurt", The Bear Hunters playing their song "The Void", and The Pixo Control playing "This Is Momentary, Forever"! Thanks everyone, and stay tuned for weekend concert previews next!