Band Battle Redux, January 9, 2014

Last night  (Thursday, 1-9-13), I was back at my favorite local joint, Jammin Java, for the final night of preliminaries in the club’s Mid-Atlantic Band Battle #10. (You can read a summary of Tuesday night’s contest two blog entries back.)

Good news – it was a particularly fun night with lots of friendly chat with judges, patrons, band members and staff. Bad news – the night ran long, with extra time between sets causing the evening to finish about an hour later than scheduled.

That’s what’s known as a First World Problem. Any time you can set in a comfy spot, hear lots of local music, eat good food (for free; it’s a judges’ perk) and hear people clap for your name (host Nate Ihara makes the judges introductions a fun ego-boost), it’s a good time.  Here’s what went down, with blurry photos taken from the judges table. (For good photos, check out Act Of Light’s web site; their photog Frank was taking pro shots all night.)

First band up was Static, a quintet with a female lead vocalist. It’s always tough to be the first band, with people still drifting into the venue, but Static did a good job, made more admirable when I discovered that some of the band members are still in 8th and 10th grade! Let’s hear it for young talent!


The second act was Skypunch, another quintet with a female lead vocalist. In talking with a few members of this DC-based band later, I learned that they’ve only been together a short while and hasn’t much live performance experience. Their set was nonetheless smooth and enjoyable.



The third act, Don’t Look Down, is not to be confused with a similarly named band that made some news (including a mention in Seventeen magazine!) a few years back. This quintet (five out of six acts this night were five-member bands) has been together about three years and plays an invigorating pop/punk blend that made for a bracing mid-show set. A revved-up cover of Blessid Union of Souls’ “Hey Leonardo” (a.k.a. “She Likes Me for Me”) was a good choice, too.

Don't Look Down

Don’t Look Down

With a band name like His Dream of Lions, you expect something a little different, and our fourth act, another young band, stood out for its mix of good looks and pop/rock licks.  The group is looking to release its first album later this year and opened for Aaron Carter at Fillmore Silver Spring last fall.

I’m glad I got a clear shot of the band as they were getting ready to play, since I was too busy enjoying the music to take a lot of shots once they began.


His Dream of Lions

His Dream of Lions

The only band to break the quintet rule this night was the fifth act – DTMG (no, I don’t know what it stands for, and they weren’t telling) – which filled both the stage and the room by virtue of six players and two female singers. A true party band, DTMG mixed a lot of funky cover tunes into its set, including bits of Chuck Brown’s “Bustin’ Loose” and Sly Stone’s “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin”).



Such a crowd-pleasing set made for a tough act to follow, but the night’s final contestants, Motorcade, our fifth quintet, with a female support vocalist and guitarist/singer frontman, brought the show to a close with a set of mid-tempo originals.



At each of these events, as the scores are tallied, I share the audience’s anticipation in wondering who will win. The judges don’t talk about their favorites and we don’t see each other’s sheets, filled out with marks for songwriting, presence and other performance aspects, so I don’t know who the winner will be until Nate Ihara, our genial host, announces it from the stage.

Nate Ihara

Nate Ihara

Tonight, that winner happened to be…DTMG. And they seemed to be quite happy about it…

DTMG celebrates

DTMG celebrates

So, that means that the finals, to be held on February 28th, will feature these four acts:  Christian Lopez & Joe Taxi, CODA,  Beggars Made Believers, and DTMG.  All the details – including the full list of prizes and how to get advance tickets – here.
Until then, have fun and support local music!

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