The Underground (Battle of the Bands II)

battleofthebandsII

By Grant Rickards, Two Rivers Tribune

Well, after some delay, Battle of the Bands finally opened, letting the local music scene from Humboldt county show us what it could do. First prize was a custom dean donated by Fortuna music, along with a trophy, two more gigs, a trophy and a cash prize.

Behind that was a legion of prizes for six places, giving almost everyone something to take home for their troubles.

As always, there were a few no shows, and a few new entries, and something a little different in between sets: our emcees for the night, Zach and Steamer. During setup and intermissions these guys joked around, promoted their CD, and rapped about positive things. Their high energy and unshakable good cheer was kind of infectious, and they knew how to play a crowd.

Most of the music played this year was acoustic alternative… with a few metal bands—our own Beneath the Sorrow included. But our stars were The Midnight Warriors, the sets were solid, the music was good, and the crowd loved them, eventually earning them fourth place and a chance to play at the Youth Relay for Life with the other winning bands May 22-23. Other bands worth noting: Subject to Change, a bluesy lounge band, they played a great version of “Chameleon.” The Stitched Heart was present again this year, playing a fast punk version of “Let It Be” and a few short originals. the best guitar work came from Substance, a three-piece hard rock band, featuring technical riffs and sweep arpeggios. Showmanship goes to Beneath the Sorrow, when Monitz channeled his inner Hendrix and played the guitar behind his head, and then with his teeth!

But the real star of this event was Amy Kae, of Eureka, who shyly approached the stage with nothing but an acoustic guitar and blew everyone away with here angelic voice and deep lyrics. It came as no surprise when she took first place and walked off that stage with a trophy.

The music was good, and the turnout this year was great. I saw several familiar faces this year come out to support our bands–The fans from Hoopa were easily distinguished from the see of Pete Wentz look-alikes–and I couldn’t be happier.

It was the best turnout to date, and may have turned this high school project into a yearly tradition, which was the ultimate goal of East Lab when the started hosting this show four years ago. Well, their hard work paid off, the majority of the seats at the Eureka Theatre filled and the bands played their hearts out. It was memorable to say the least.

Now for dishonorable mention—the sound guy. The faceless butcher of what otherwise was a great time. Whoever he was, hiding in the balconies overhead, didn’t know what he was doing. Levels fluctuated, guitars and mic’s fed back unchecked, and the music suffered for it. Hopefully next time a professional will have the reins, because this year was a complete disaster of sound levels. But the bands were great, and this year I give Battle of the Bands a five, and everyone in attendance would agree.    

As always, I’m still on the lookout for new bands of interest, email me a grant.rickards@gmail.com

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