By Grant Fry
The room was only about half full at the start of tonight’s battle, but the room was still buzzing with excitement. The crowd took a bit of time to warm up, but they really came alive for the last two sets. The energy definitely built as the night went on. Every band tonight won over at least one of the judges as their favorite for the evening.
Grimwood was up first. Smooth guitar tones added a dreamlike texture to their songs. Lots of energy from the drummer, Dalton Jolley, and bassist The Dude. They seemed a little stiff on stage at first, but warmed up quickly as they started interacting with each other and the crowd. Kort (Frontman/Vocalist) was great with the crowd, even getting out on a stool and singing from the middle of the floor to end the set. He had some great power moments as a vocalist. Guitarist Jacob Ridge got some love from the crowd for his solo on their 5th song. I think their song “Alice in Wonderland,” which you can stream on Spotify, was the crowd favorite from the set. There weren’t any moments that blew me away, but a solid, fun performance.
Next up was the Samuel Charles band. They (jokingly?) claim that the songs were all written by the singer about the bassist’s mom. Fun banter between songs in general. Frontman Samuel is a great lyricist. The songs were really telling a story. In fact, there was an audible “ahhh” at the end of third song because the romance of the lyrics really sunk in for the audience. As a whole, the rhythm was a bit too loose – they could lock that in a little tighter. If I had to pick a favorite song, I really enjoyed “December 26th,” which is yet to be released. A highlight of the performance was the harmonica solo toward the end of the set. The crowd really started moving toward the 4th song and several couples even started dancing together toward the back of the room. Another fun performance, and definitely worth a listen on Spotify.
Third in tonight’s lineup was Kipper Snack. Fresh off of an EP release, these guys were ready to show off the hard work they’ve put into their writing. With 3 guitarists, they had a lush, full sound. Great guitar riffs on every song, and endless catchy melodies on vocals. Their stage presence was great, but I think the real strength lies in their songwriting and arrangement. Kipper Snack’s upbeat sound had the crowd moving instantly. The rhythm was tight, and every member of the band is incredibly talented on their respective instruments. If you’re ready for something heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time, have a listen to their track “Mama” on Spotify. Vocalist Sean Mena delivered his strongest performance of the night to a crowd that was silent as they took in the beautiful lyrics and emotion of that song.
Down River closed out the night. By this time a lot of the crowd had cleared out, but the energy of this final set probably doubled even with half the people in the audience. Their lead singer April and drummer Theo are siblings, and you can tell that adds to their comfort on stage. Clearly influenced by Classic Rock legends, this performance was the epitome of the spirit of Rock & Roll. Their third song “Pulling Me Under” briefly got a small mosh pit to form. The crowd was into it. While every member of the band was amazing, the powerhouse vocals from April were a highlight of the whole night. The band was clearly having a blast and the crowd was there to party right along with them. What a way to end the show.
In the end, it was Kipper Snack that took the win tonight. I look forward to seeing them in the finals on Saturday.
Don’t miss tonight’s lineup of Black Tie Event, Psychedelic Purple, Hollow Hill, and Hurtado. Doors open at 7:30 PM. $10 at the door. While you’re waiting for the show to start, check out “Kiss Me” by Kipper Snack!