Battle Of The Bands Preliminary Rocks The Vandy Cabaret Room
Bobnoxious, Jimmy and the Gooch, and Lucid Soul Advance
Published: Sunday, March 17, 2013
Updated: Monday, March 18, 2013 00:03
That racket you heard this weekend in Vanderslice was the sound of eight groups busting out their music chops at Battle of the Bands, sponsored primarily by the Arts Council. The crowd was loving it (they even formed a faux-mezzanine on the second level), as well they should have: tremendous talent took the stage that night, representing a fantastic range of styles. Every band rocked, but a panel of judges had to choose what three bands rocked the hardest, one of whom will be chosen at Arts Fest to open for Macklemore at Modstock. No one let pressure drag them down: it was a great show, a great way to see some rising talent, and a good time had by all.
Let’s talk about the bands. Kicking off was Bobnoxious and the Master Craftmen, who scored points off the bat for biggest turnout. They stormed the place with classic assemblage, explosive surf-rock style, and high energy as a saving grace: the instrumentals were never short on power and showmanship. The guitarist tore up his solos, the keyboardist shook like one of those inflatable-dancing-men you see at car dealerships. Everyone there, Bobnoxious included, was having an amazing time.
Next up was Jimmy and the Gooch with an indie-folk set list: a big shift that the crowd dug right away. Jimmy played acoustic guitar while Gooch swapped between mandolin and banjo. The Mumford and Sons influence was evident, but rather than rehash, the duo went their own direction with original songs “Found my Way” and “Daybreak,” anchored by Gooch stomping a bass drum. Overall, these guys stole hearts with a tight and talented display.
For another genre shift, the next act was Times New Roman with hip-hop/electronica, a one-man/one-Mac show. Synthesized music is always a risky move for an amateur playing live, which is why modern rappers perform with laser-lighting, costumes, and gimmicks to keep the audience’s attention. But Times New Roman never faltered, singing three songs over self-produced beats with true panache. Though it couldn’t commandeer the traction of the first two, it was outside of the box and a real class act for that.
The next band was Mamojam, which they explained after the show is meant to pun on “mammoth jams” as opposed to “mammograms,” which this reporter originally thought. Name confusions aside, these dudes tore it up. They’re funk-rock with a New Orleans twist, a squiggly, high-speed punk amplified by the sax-and-trumpet “Mamohorns.” The drummer was positively killing it, the bassist was all over the neck, and the guitarist was in a groove somethin’ fierce. Mamojam played mostly instrumentals and brought the house down: you can check out their album, The Funky Flamingo, free online right now.
Jimmy of “Gooch” fame returned to the stage with Lucid Soul, an electric jam band wearing PJs to underscore their “pa-jamming.” Jimmy played wicked lead and brought back his stellar vocals for another original called “Wasting Daylight.”
Bringing on a short-and-sweet follow up was dynamic duo Black and Bruised, who started out with a cover of White Stripes’ “Hotel Yorba.” After, they rocked out an original called “Independent Band,” which did stupendous riff work with a rollicking drum thump that would make Meg White blush. This freshman group has excellent potential, not to mention their kinetic tour-de-force.
Gray Matter followed with Apocalyptic Rock, a boy-and-girl vocal harmony that distracted from the fact that the rhythm guitarist couldn’t play and sing simultaneously. The lead guitarist hung in the cool back-wing of the stage shredding hot licks, and the female bassist was belting out verses dressed like a punk-rocker. They’re a motley crew of a band, but it works for them. The closing act was The Stoop Kids, boasting a strong lead singer and a spin on the Three Doors Down “Here Without You” riff. Their stuff was last but not least, a brief but powerful send-off worth not glancing over.
Choosing the winners must’ve been tough considering the talent, but the final say awarded Bobnoxious, Jimmy/Gooch, and Lucid Soul.