By Zach Collier
Last night, the week long display of local talent continued as locals gathered together at Velour for the second night of Battle of the Bands.
Starting things off was The Mainstream. This is an extremely young band. Unfortunately, they showed a lot of the classic weaknesses that come with youth, i.e. simple arrangements, lyrics that aren’t too meaningful, instrument tones that didn’t blend too well, etc. However, despite their youth, they have a lot going for them. They have a frontman that has great stage presence, they play a fairly tight show, and above all else, they are lovable. They can quickly win over an audience, and the audience wants them to succeed. I see these guys having a bright future as long as they don’t get complacent and recognize that there is always room for improvement.
The Day & Night were next and they were kind of a wild card. An interesting electronic trio, their live performance consists of keyboards played along to a track, with the occasional acoustic guitar thrown in. They have really groovy, comfortable melodies that probably won’t get stuck in my head forever, but I can totally see myself sitting back, closing my eyes, and chilling to their music. All three of the band members sing, which is great because having that female voice really adds a nice touch to their sound. Usually having a backing track takes away from the organic quality of a live performance, but this didn’t feel overly manufactured because of the real vocal harmonies. It did make it difficult to judge how tight their performance was when so much of what they do is done by pressing play. My one criticism is that their tracks may be a little too similar. Their set kind of felt like listening to the same great song on repeat one too many times.
Pipes are a folky four piece that includes an accordion. Yes, accordion. And it isn’t cheesy at all. It is actually used very tastefully as a humming melodic bed for everything else to rest on. It kind of feels like an organ in the way that it is used. They also often have a violin which not only sounds great, but combined with the accordion it makes the instrumentation very unique, and gives Pipes a very distinct sound. Their song “Dreamt I Drown” obviously meant a lot to them, and they performed it as such. They created a great moment during their performance, dedicating the song to anyone who has struggled with mental illness and calling for a moment of silence throughout the duration of the song. By way of criticism, they were a little stiff on stage. But that may not be a fair criticism since they are all playing instruments and, except for the drummer, are often singing as well. The biggest issue with their performance was that their harmonies needed to be tighter. However, when the harmonies were on it sounded fantastic! It means that their part writing is good, and now it’s just a matter of getting their songs 100% performance ready. Pipes is the kind of band I’m really excited to see in the future when they’ve solidified their set and have a little more experience under their belt. They have great songwriting and interesting arrangements. While they weren’t quite executed perfectly, they were still good enough to impress.
Moody Pulp definitely marches to the beat of their own drummer. They introduced themselves with their fruit nicknames, and, to be perfectly honest, they look like the kind of guys that would give themselves fruit nicknames. They put on quite a show though. They are genuinely entertaining. Musically, they were the tightest group of the night. Beyond that, they – more than any other band last night – knew who they were. They played 70’s style groove rock with a modern twist, and they did so unapologetically. They were loud, they were brash, but they were also good – and that’s what made them my favorites of the night. They could do with some improvements. Their tone, for one, was not very good. The guitars sounded like they were coming through a tin can for a lot of their set, and the bass sounded a little too blatty. Though they naturally have a good stage presence, they know how to ham it up. That self indulgence can lose an audience quickly, especially when it’s an audience that isn’t made up entirely of friends, as it was last night. If they take this music thing a little more seriously, they can, without a doubt, make some waves in the music scene. I hope that their playful performance isn’t a reflection of their work ethic. When these guys act like a band, rather than a group of hypemen, they actually make good music, and that’s what got them the win last night.
Last night was a lot of fun, but it was full of inexperienced bands. Though Moody Pulp absolutely deserved their victory last night, I can’t help but think that if a band like Kenton or Indigo Plateau had switched places with any of the bands from last night that they would have been through to the finals as well. Luck of the draw, I guess.
The show goes on tonight as The Cold Year, Motion Coaster, Star Crossed Loners, and Grove battle it out for a spot at the finals on Saturday. Come to Velour tonight at 8PM. Tickets are $7 at the door (cash only). Check out “Out of This World” by Moody Pulp below.