By Jeremy Thacker
I have been coming to shows at Velour since middle school, and during all those years I’ve never felt an energy quite like tonight. The audience was packed with 250 people in attendance, and the fans and musicians alike had really high energy and passion. They had good reason, too – Velour’s Battle of the Bands is one of the most exciting weeks of the year for the local music scene. It gives fans the perfect opportunity to discover new artists, and it opens up plenty of opportunities for the artists that compete. Four great bands kicked it off tonight, and if the rest of the week has bands as talented as the ones tonight, then we’re in for one of the best Battle of the Bands yet.
Rip Cassette started off the night. They’re an indie synth rock band from Orem who have been together for 2 years. They seemed to start the set off a bit rocky. People were still coming into the venue when they began the set and I think that may have thrown them off a bit, making it difficult for them to connect with the audience. They also had a couple technical hiccups, with their vocals getting drowned out a bit during the first couple songs. As their set progressed, though, they became more relaxed and confident on stage, and their music started really shining through. I was a big fan of their song “Figure it Out” which blended some dreamy synths with a solid pop rock melody. Despite their rocky start I think they were able to win over the crowd by the end of their set, with people clapping along to the beat and dancing. They even threw out a couple beach balls at one point!
Salt was the second band to take the stage. Y’all, I am such a sucker for a good horn and these guys have an entire friggin’ brass section. I was in heaven. Half of the band used to play in a ska band and the influence was pretty clear. They smartly employed a typical ska rhythm and the horn section to get the crowd up and on their feet. They really got the crowd moving during their first song and kept that energy through the whole set. “Say” was their latest single on Spotify, but “Midas” was my favorite: the lyrics were clever, the melody was catchy, and when the full band came in for the chorus it felt like a big moment. That single hasn’t been released on streaming services yet, but it will definitely go on my playlist as soon as it is.
I went into Seaslak, the third group, completely blind. They’ve only been together for 4 months so you won’t find any music on Spotify, and their Instagram account is pretty sparse as well. I had no idea what to expect from these guys. I definitely wasn’t expecting a singer/songwriter folk pop group to follow up after Salt’s high energy set, but Seaslak nailed it. The lead vocalist has an amazing voice – a little raspy that lends itself really well to their folk style. His voice reminded me a lot of Passenger. I found myself very impressed by their guitarist as well, who was able to interject several blues-style riffs and solos into the set. In the moments where the keys, drums, and bass were able to come through I was very impressed with them as well, and I found myself wishing that the rest of the band had as much time to shine as their singer and guitarist. As expected with a singer/songwriter style, they slowed it down quite a bit more than the previous groups. Despite this the energy never fell flat and they were really able to captivate the audience. I’ve never seen a crowd at Velour fall silent as quickly as this crowd did when Seaslak started their songs. Once they finished their set the crowd chanted them off the stage, showing just how much they’d done to win them over.
The final group to grace the stage was Tag!, a band from Provo that’s been together for a year. During other performances with 4 bands on the bill, the crowd typically tires out near the end, but that was far from the case when Tag! took the stage. The fans were in love with this band, literally chanting for them during the sound check. The members of Tag! had ridiculous amounts of on-stage charisma that really helped keep the audience excited through the entire set. Tag! had a good pop rock sound, but their vocalist was what really stood apart to me – while he didn’t have quite the range and vocal mastery as Seaslak’s vocalist, he was able to surprise me several times with the emotion he brought to their songs.
What a way to start off the summer Battle of the Bands! Honestly, by the end of the night I had no clue who was going to be declared the winner. All of the groups that performed had some huge strengths. As I walked through the crowd while waiting for the winner to be announced I heard people debating each band and could tell the audience was fairly divided as well. Soon enough, though, the envelope was opened and Seaslak was declared the winner! They’ll move on to play this Saturday, June 25, against the finalists from the rest of this week.
Velour’s Summer 2022 Battle of the Bands Night 2 is tonight! Grimwood, The Samuel Charles Band, Kippersnack and Down River will perform. Doors open at 7:30 PM. While you’re waiting for the show to start, check out Seaslak on Instagram.