The Bear Hunters, who broke out the extra camouflage for their set, as well as a new song named "The Dying Den" to join existing originals like "I Fear No God", but one lasting image will be the slaughter of assorted teddy bears during their set, with stuffing littering the floor! The name's not just a name, bears are indeed the enemy! The Bear Hunters also had the best fan response of the night, with one attendee even bringing a sign, but did that all help push them over the edge? Third up on Wednesday night were week 2 winners Mannapool, who had an improved placement to benefit their well recieved originals like "Beckoning" and "Way Home" that had arguably more of a presence of softer and slower songs than in the semifinals. Did Mannapool turn out the top scores in the final round?
Gnaeus played last (lucky draw!), and they brought their garage/punk sound to the finals for a set of mostly originals like "The Curse" and the fan-requested "Numbers", plus covers of The Cold War Kids & Daniel Lioneye (fans of Viva La Bam loved that), and while they had a good reception and fan turnout, was that enough to tip them over the edge? After their set were most of the prize announcements, but we'll start by addressing the eight individual awards, which were partially announced between sets as well, and with all performers winning a certificate to go along with the main prize. The Bear Hunters were the only band to pick up two of these awards, with Mitch Sirie winning a Case's Music gear package for Best Guitar Player and drummer Johnny Belanger picking up a custom drum skin from Maxx Graphix for winning Best Drummer!
As for other performer awards, they went to non-finalists, with Haggith frontman Curtis McKenzie winning a new microphone from Right Hook Mics for Best Vocal Performance, while Honest Job bassist Jared Fridy won a Case's Music gear package for Best Bass Player (not bad for his first show with them!) He was the only award winner who couldn't attend the finals, so his bandmates accepted on his behalf. In terms of the separate awards for bands, Gnaeus won recording time with Tidal Records for Best Overall Song ("Circles" from their semifinal set), The Apocalypse Afterparty won a case of Bomb Energy Drinks and a Bomb t-shirt for Most Energetic Band, and in a bit of a surprise, classic metal quartet Project 421 won the coveted Budweiser/Marshall amplifier beer fridge for Fan Favourite Band! Even I wanted that one! As for the Most Enthusiastic Fan award, even that went to a competitor, with Danger Cats drummer "Calico" Katie Maskell winning the $100 Rad Zone gift certificate, as she was always at the finals cheering on the bands!
And now, to the grand prize winners, so who won this huge battle of the bands? I will say beforehand that first and second place were only separated by 2 POINTS, and like in Mannapool's second night victory, any little thing might have shifted the results in the other direction! It was razor close, but who took first place? Here's the final placements!
1st Place: Gnaeus
2nd Place: The Bear Hunters
3rd Place: Mannapool
4th Place: The Apocalypse Afterparty
For the second time in three weeks, GNAEUS have came out on top in a local battle of the bands, becoming the first band since Bring The Fallen in 2009 & 2010 to win two battles in Sault Ontario! It's not easy to out-place 13 different bands at two consecutive events, but in this hot streak, that's exactly what they've did! This talented young quartet won $1,000, a professionally produced electronic press kit and video from VM Radio, and a huge framed plaque to commemorate their victory, and if this doesn't help jumpstart their local run, nothing will! It's worth noting that they did win the battle after being the wild card last week, but as we saw with Haggith & the former Pesto Shirts' podium finishes two years ago, being the wild card is not a handicap, and it can be a motivating factor for a band in that spot to bring their A-game and show that they deserve to be there, which Gnaeus certainly did! Congratulations to Aaron, Brad, Matt, and Brendan on their battle victories!
The Bear Hunters' close loss may be disappointing, but again, they came within 2 points of their own second battle of the bands win, and this is far & away their best ever finish at a judged battle of the bands, so congratulations to them on that level (and I did save one of the poor slaughtered teddy bears so it wouldn't die in vain!) Mannapool surprisingly didn't win any announced awards, but with a strong third place finish and a huge impression left on many new fans, this can only help their exposure as they continue their local growth in 2015 and beyond! And The Apocalypse Afterparty's entertaining sets definitely gave a lot of fans something to talk about, no matter how familiar you were with them before, and even though they couldn't reach The Fury's old battle heights, they've made their mark! Overall, this was a great battle of the bands, and I was honoured to bear witness to this collection of talent this month! If I ever get the call to judge another battle, I'd be more than happy to sign on!
I want to thank J.D. Pearce (a.k.a. Johnny Pints) for having me on to judge this month, Dustin Jones & Rob Speers for their friendliness and insight as we judged the event, Donna Hopper for all of her excellent photos, Dan Nystedt for having me in for this month's Tuned episodes, everyone at Tidal Records and Village Media for their hospitality this month, and all of the above sponsors for making this event possible! And of course, thanks to all 11 of this month's bands for putting on such a great event, and to The Pixo Control for a great guest set during week #1, you guys would have been strong contenders had you been competing! I just hope I added something to the process, and if the opportunity arises to work with the organizers of this battle again, I'm all for it!
As seen above, Donna Hopper was on hand to take photos during the finals for this SooToday recap article, which includes an awards breakdown and remarks from Gnaeus members on their win, so be sure to give it a look! Her photos include 4 each from The Apocalypse Afterparty & The Bear Hunters' sets, 3 each from Mannapool & Gnaeus' sets, and 2 of The Bear Hunters' fans, with the rest coming from and during the awarding of prizes to winning bands and artists. All are great as usual, so be sure to check them out above! The new Tuned episode is online as well, but we'll hold that for an upcoming news post to give it proper emphasis, especially given the length of this recap post. As for our videos, I decided to film the first two songs of each band, as I did at the 2013 Rockstar Bar Battle finals, just to do a little something extra for each band to mark their finals run, so what did we film from each band?
In chronological order by set, here's The Apocalypse Afterparty covering Saul Williams' "List of Demands (Reparations)" and The Fury's "Rebel Scum", The Bear Hunters playing their songs "Dominate" & "Deception", Mannapool playing their songs "Mayday" & "Controlled Chaos", and Gnaeus playing their songs "Lacking" & "Walls"! That's all for now, but stay tuned for this month's Saultites In Out Of Town Bands Profile either tonight or tomorrow morning! Thanks everyone, and congratulations again to Gnaeus!