Tag Archives: Coda

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!

Static

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.

Skypunch

Skypunch

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.

HDOL

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”).

DTMG

DTMG

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.

Motorcade

Motorcade

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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Live from Jammin Java’s Mid-Atlantic Band Battle, Jan. 7, 2014

On Tuesday night, I sat at the judges’ table during the second of four nights in the preliminary rounds of Jammin Java’s Mid-Atlantic Band Battle #10 (yes, #10!). Six bands performed, but only one advances to the finals, the winner of which will get a range of prizes like studio time, a professional photo shoot, a Jammin Java headline show and even an official press bio written by a published music journalist (me?!)

As usual, it was a great chance to catch up with some fine local bands and this particular night had two recurring themes – youth and hard rock. The first band on was Whyte Crimson, a four-piece instrumental band that brought some heavy riffage to the club. (BTW, I must apologize in advance for the quality of the photos. I was using a basic camera, not my SLR, and shot mostly from a distance, while sitting at the judges’ table.) Here’s the Reston-based Whyte Crimson, complete with congas!

Whyte Crimson

Next up was Bachs of Rock, a group that made an impression for bringing a big sound despite the fact that all the members are under 16. Their set included covers of the Beatles and Metallica.

Bachs of Rock

Bachs of Rock

Third band up was Good Morning Tides, who had a howling lead singer, a wild guitarist and a sense of dynamics, moving from quick tempo to slow…

Good Morning Tides

Good Morning Tides

As the night moved into its second half, another young band took the stage – Coda – whose band members are also teens. One of the judges mentioned that he saw the band open for a Tool cover band at Fillmore Silver Spring and was impressed. So was I when they began playing. Even though I’m not, by nature, a frequent hard rock  listener, I can appreciate a lead singer who knows how to sing/scream with control and good pitch, and this kid had it.

Coda

Coda

The Maryland-based band has studied its Led Zeppelin songbook well, playing with equal parts power and hooks, especially on a song that I’m guessing could be called “Messenger/Prophesy.” At its end, I turned to the hard rocking judges next to me and asked if it was an obscure metal classic I didn’t know, but was told it was an original. Points! (I’m writing this while watching “@Midnight.”)

Our evening’s host, Nate Ihara, shared a photo of Coda that he took from his vantage point closer to the stage and it’s a great action shot…

Coda

Coda

Things heated up with the arrival of the penultimate (I love that word) band, Skyward, a five piece with U2-like ringing guitars and catchy, anthemic choruses. They also had a great moment when everyone played various drums/percussion for a mighty noise. (This is another photo from Nate.)

Skyward

a Skyward

And last but not (as the saying goes) least, came another quintet, Playground Etiquette, from Baltimore. This group also had a fierce singer (this one female) who played guitar as well, and offered  the unique accents of violin. (I grabbed this shot on the way back from the ladies room, so there’s a little better focus and perspective.)

Playground Etiquette

Playground Etiquette

I’d like to think there are no losers in these Band Battles, as all the musicians who make it to the preliminaries, after scores of acts submitted music for consideration, have shown themselves worthy of a hearing. As for the judging, with points given for musicianship, look, crowd response and other factors, it sometimes comes down to very tight margins. On this night, the winner was…Coda!

The guys will go on to play against the three other preliminary night champs on February 28.

I’m judging again tonight (Thursday, January 9) and have to hit the road shortly, so better wrap it up.  Thanks for reading and support local music!

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