Friday, March 25, 2016

The 2016 VM Radio Battle Of The Bands Finals Recap!!

At last, here's our recap of Wednesday night's VM Radio Battle of the Bands final round, and apologies again for the delay, our K.I.C.K. video upload failed twice before finally making it onto Facebook. After two weeks of intense action from 5 local bands (plus a fun guest set from Jack Spades), the contest came to a head at The Canadian Nightclub on Wednesday, and aside from the obvious high stakes, the only differences from the semifinals were in the presence of more sponsor prizes and promotional papers from The Din and K.I.C.K. on tables at the venue. Also, Tidal Records' Dustin Jones was back behind the judges table on Wednesday after being absent from last week's semifinal due to personal commitments, but as both of last week's bands advanced to the finals, he still got to see everyone compete! Wednesday also saw the best turnout of the month for attending fans, but what did everyone see? Here's what you should know!

After a random drawing coincidentally gave us all 3 bands in alphabetical order (all playing 9 songs, no less), local alternative hard rock trio and week #1 winners The Din opened the finals with a set of mostly originals like "We Met As Surrogates" and the debuting "Differences", plus covers of The Barenaked Ladies and The Beatles, with only 4 songs repeating from their semifinal set. The Din received another good reception, with Mike Haggith & Tammy Hill exploring their surroundings well during their set, but did they do enough to win their first battle of the bands? Next was local hard rock quartet (and week #2 wild cards) Eclipse, who played 5 originals like "Crywolf" and "Rebel From Above" (a renamed revival of Curtis & Daniel's old band Punch's eponymous song, and also played by Haggith), which were bookended with four covers from bands like Genesis and System of a Down. Breaking out their smoke machine once again, Eclipse had a strong set, including 4 songs not played last week, and they too had a good reception!

Indie/acoustic rock quartet (and week #2 winners) K.I.C.K. closed the night with a set that didn't stray too far from last week's song selection, with only 2 songs replaced, but they won over attendees with originals like "Silently Screaming" and "HWY 17" (which even got a few slow-dancing couples!), plus many fan favourite returning originals and their OneRepublic and The Weeknd renditions. The Keep It Cool Kids got a strong response and seemed to be having fun, complete with a surprise introduction by last year's winners in Gnaeus, but did K.I.C.K. win it all this year? After their set, judges Rob Speers, Dustin Jones, and myself convened to add up scores and determine individual award winners, and while I again won't publically reveal the final tallies, I will say that we didn't universally agree on our first place picks, though one judge had two of the bands tied.

And also, I'll confirm that the winning band edged out second place by just three points, making this (at least) the fourth judged local battle since 2009 where the winning band won by 3 points or less. If you ever wanted a sign as to how talented and competitive local artists can be, this is it! Now, here are the final results, courtesy of MC/promoter J.D. Pearce, plus the winners of this year's individual awards:

1st Place: K.I.C.K.
2nd Place: The Din
3rd Place: Eclipse

Best Vocal Performance: Curtis McKenzie (Eclipse)
Best Guitar Player: Tammy Hill (The Din)
Best Bass Player: Fred Dunn (Eclipse)
Best Drummer: Aaron Dunn (K.I.C.K.)
Best Song: K.I.C.K. - "Wanted"

After three weeks of hard fought battling, K.I.C.K. edged out The Din to claim their first battle of the bands victory in their first try, so congratulations to Simon, Tyson, Kevin, and Aaron are absolutely in order for their strong and fan pleasing performances this year! It is a coincidence that K.I.C.K. were, like Gnaeus last year, the last band in both of their battle sets, and narrowly defeated a heavier band by a small margin to win the battle? If anything, it shows how talented each band is, and how much potential the scene has! Like they did at the Speak Easy Battle earlier this month, The Din and Eclipse both finished in second & third place, but considering that The Din and 3/4ths of Eclipse (in Project 421) didn't place or make the finals in either of last year's battles, they won big from their huge turn-arounds this year alone, and Eclipse were competitive in the totals too! There's absolutely nothing to be ashamed of! As for Stereo North and Heavy Head, the fourth & fifth place finishers from week #1, I do want to thank them for their entertaining sets too, they showed a lot of talent and promise!

As for the awards won last night, K.I.C.K. picked up $500 for their victory (if they won anything else for first place, it wasn't announced), while there was again no announced prize for second or third place. Curtis McKenzie overcame his cold to receive a $100 Rad Zone gift card for his second straight Best Vocal Performance award (he won with Haggith last year), while The Din's Tammy Hill & Eclipse's Fred Dunn each received a Case's Music prize package for their Best Guitar & Bass Player awards. K.I.C.K.'s Aaron Dunn matched his brother Fred with a Best Drummer award, winning a custom drum skin from Maxx Graphix, while K.I.C.K. won recording time at Tidal Records for "Wanted" as the Best Song. The Most Energetic Band and Best Fan awards didn't return from last year's battle, while the Fan Favourite Band award was apparently scuttled due to a virtual tie among the fan vote, as per J.D. in a personal conversation on Wednesday.

Overall, this year's VM Radio Battle of the Bands was a great time, both for the fun of this style of event, and for my return to local concerts after 6 months away due to (ongoing) family health matters, and hopefully it won't be another 6 months before I see another live concert! Huge thanks go out to J.D. for inviting me to be a judge at this year's battle once again, it's a privilege that I was more than happy to accept, and if the call comes for next year, I'll be ready to serve if at all possible! Thanks as well to Dustin, Rob, and last week's guest judge Christian Lemay for their input, support, and professionalism this month, you were great judges once again, and I'd be happy to work with you guys again if the situation arises! Of course, thanks to all of the aforementioned sponsors who put this year's battle on (including Village Media and Labatt Breweries), and to The Canadian Nightclub proper for being a great host venue once again!

As for our videos from the battle finals, I kept up my tradition dating back to 2013's Rockstar Bar Battle by filming each finalist band's first two songs (it's the finals of a multi-night battle, they deserve the extra song!), and after some unforeseen delays, each track is now online on our Facebook page! There will be more media coming from Village Media's local news sites (SooToday and Local2), but in the meantime, here's The Din playing "In Search of the Perfect Moment" & "Cowardly Hearts Beneath The Stars", Eclipse covering System of a Down's "Hypnotize" & Billy Talent's "Fallen Leaves", and K.I.C.K. playing "Burning Desire" & "Stranded"!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for this month's YouTube Channel Profile, more news, and this month's CD review in short order! Thanks everyone!

No comments: