Last weekend was WhySound‘s annual Battle of the Bands. And I had the opportunity to compete. Spoiler alert: we did not win. Well, we won pizza. Which is good enough for us, but we were not one of the two bands from our night selected to go to the finals.
It was the third of five preliminary rounds. The final round is Feb. 25. About 30 bands entered the prelim’s, and there will be 10 bands at the finals. Frankly, I would not want to play at that show. Six bands per show is enough for me. And I have a baby shower to attend that weekend anyway.
Here is what I liked: each band gets three songs and they all have to be original. Also, an hour before the show, we did not know when we would be performing. Someone from each band showed up and drew a number out of a cup.
Tracing Yesterday played first. They were Indie Pop Rock, and obviously the youngest band there. For a high school band, they were not bad. Better than most of the bands my friends had in high school. But you could tell they lacked confidence.
Then there was Swamp Donkey. A literal Band of Brothers. Karl and Kelin Gibbons: classically trained guitarists playing Death Metal. Joined by their brother Kory on drums and Jason Fuller on bass. I knew Swamp Donkey would go on to the finals once they pulled out their Concerto of Doom. That was not the official title, but it is close enough. It was twenty minutes of classical guitar, but with time signature changes and heavy distortion. The irony of it all is that I know Kelin is just a nice guy. I would never picture him in a Metal band. And if you just heard Karl’s voice, you would imagine someone just as nice. And I am sure he his, which is why you should never judge a book by its cover. Or a musician by his appearance. But just by looking at them, you could tell they played Metal.
Kelin is one of those guys who is very much involved in the local music scene. Besides Swamp Donkey, he is in a Bluegrass band, an Indie Rock band, a Psychedelic Rock band, and probably two more I do not know about.
Chucks was the other band that moved on. And I think it may have had something to do with their crowd participation. It seemed like these guys have some really dedicated fans. So dedicated, in fact, I think they scared off half the crowd. Or at least scared them to the back of the room. The Chucks play what I would call Hardcore Punk. And their fans decided that a mosh pit would be an appropriate activity for WhySound. You have to realize that most public restrooms are bigger than this venue. I think the maximum capacity of the whole building is less than fifty people. As a musician, I love it. It makes concerts more intimate. I just think that it is not conducive to a lot of moving around.
I have to be honest, I did not hear much of the next band: Deicidal Carnage. You see, I was in the green room. However, I could hear a lot of noise coming from the stage. Try as I could, I still do not know much about this band. I know Jake Crook, Mauro Diaz, Lakin Lofthouse, and Davis Firth are in it, but I do not know what they play. In case you were wondering, the first word in their band name means something along the lines of killing deity. Like homicide, but deicide. They have “Kill” spray painted on one of their bass drum heads. And with hit tunes such as “Seducing the Putrid,” “Impaled at the Alter,” and “Verminous Enteritis,” I am sure that you came to the same conclusion I did. These guys play Metal, and are very serious about it. Actually, they play something called Brutal Metal, which I am sure they spell as “BRüTL.”
And I did not hear much of the Carpet Layer Distress Band, either. I was taking stuff out to my car. I cannot find anything about these guys. The only reference I could even find was on WhySound’s promotional material for the event. It would not surprise me if these three guys who looked like they were all over 30 all went to high school together and played in a Punk band back then, and now work together and decided to get the band back together. Honestly, the little I heard of these guys convinced me they were the worst of the night.
Here is what I would do differently: make sure that bands of a specified genre are all on the same night, or on any given night no two bands are the same genre. Either way. Two metal bands, two punk bands, one pop rock band, and one funk/ska/rock band was not a good mix.
And if I were running the finals, I would ask each band to play different songs than the ones they played during the prelim. And I would say each band has to do a cover within certain parameters, i.e. a specific band or songs released a certain year.
Other people might be upset they did not win. I knew Swamp Donkey played better than us. And I know I was not at the top of my game. I do not know how everyone else in my band felt they did, but we know we are not going to get famous doing this. For Pete’s sake, it is Logan, Utah. We are just having fun.
If I did not already have other plans, I would go to the final show. As it is, I probably will not. But you should. It will be Saturday, Feb. 25. Show starts at 7:00. Tickets are five dollars. I do not know if it is at WhySound or if they will have another venue. Two years ago, they held the finals at Utah State University. So far, Till We Have Faces, Gravetown, Tr3ason, and Poor Ophelia are also playing. Till We Have Faces, Poor Ophelia (if they are who I think they are), and Swamp Donkey guarantee it will be a good show. I cannot say anything about Gravetown or Tr3ason.