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Velour Winter 2022 Battle of the Bands Recap – Night 1

Tonight kicked off the week with a bang – and highlighted a new trend in local music: 00s rock revival.

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By Zach Collier

It felt like coming home tonight when I stepped out of the cold and into the low-lit warmth of Velour Live Music Gallery. Battle of the Bands season has quickly become one of my favorite times of the year, and tonight it was easy to remember why. With a line out the door and around the block and fresh, exciting music, tonight didn’t disappoint.

Say It Back

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Say It Back kicked off the night, opening with an extended instrumental reminiscent of of early 00’s pop punk/alt rock. Their bassist and drummer held it down with a firm, locked in groove. It was hard to believe this was their first live performance ever. Things took a turn, however, when they dropped into their first song. Vocals were really rough. I really enjoy the singer’s style and timbre. It’s equal parts Jimmy Eat World’s Jim Adkins and Blink 182’s Tom DeLonge. Unfortunately, I’m not sure their frontman could hear himself in the monitors. His voice has all the character, but just wasn’t in tune for the first half of the song. Luckily he came into his own by the bridge. 

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The second song locked in even further with some tight tertian harmony. There was a moment where he launched into some good old fashioned dirty vocals, and he totally nailed the vibe. He has a likable persona and is able to really tell a story in between sets. Some people start rambling and the crowd tunes out. Not for him. His stories are engaging all the way through. 

The band functions so well as a unit. Really great, locked in grooves and that classic pop/punk tone. I’m a sucker for a good halftime shift, and these guys had them in spades. The choruses also had good hooks. Ultimately this is a really solid band that just needs to chip away at the rough edges over time. Their last song showed exactly what they had to offer, and it was great. For them it’s not a matter of if, it’s when. Looking forward to seeing what these guys can do in the future. Amazing first performance.

The What-Nots

A quintessential example of what Dusty Deseret has to offer, The What-Nots’ clean tones and lilting rhythms had just the right amount of twang while still feeling like epic rock. At one point they had a breakdown that ended on a spooky chromatic descent into a dramatic ritardando.

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They were a really tight band who made great use of chorusy tones and folk harmonies. Their harmonies were expertly written and almost perfectly in tune the entire set. They reminded me at times of Rilo Kiley and at other times Fleetwood Mac. The two front women are a vibe. They look and feel committed to their art. Both of them are equally powerful and seasoned, and the crowd reaction was genuine and electric. At one point they hit a piercing high note and held it for at least 6 measures, maybe more. Everyone erupted in cheers and applause.

My only qualm with this act was their songwriting. As much as I loved the harmonies and the overall vibe, I couldn’t sing a single song back, unfortunately. I think part of the reason for this is that the harmonies were ever-present. For future songwriting, I would encourage these two incredible vocalists to mix things up. Take turns singing, sing the catchiest parts in unison, have harmonies drop out and then drop back in. There’s so much that can be done there, and I feel like they’re just starting to explore. 

That being said, their performance was wildly enjoyable.

19 Miles Per Hour Performing at Velour Live Music Gallery. Photo by Jera Haslem.

19 Miles Per Hour

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These guys came out ready to rock. Their tones were heavier, their songs riffier, they had some excellent builds, wailing guitars, shout-heavy choruses, and they knew how to work their noise and distortion. Their guitarist and bassist both looked very early Panic! At the Disco, reaffirming the 00s theme of the night. Their drummer was the greatest drummer of the evening, blasting and stick flipping his way through the set like a god. His fills were WILD.

Despite being one of the tightest bands of the evening and having some intricate riffs and rhythms and the highest energy, I couldn’t quite figure out why these guys sound like the sonic embodiment of BYU-Idaho. That’s really harsh, but that’s the vibe. After a lot of reflection and thinking, I can now offer something a lot more helpful to the band: I think that vibe comes from the underlying harmonic structures in the songs being relentlessly major. There’s a lot of I V I motion with the occasional vi as the only source of minor tension. And the chords cycle constantly, never dwelling in one place for too long. That gives each song a cheery, peppy feeling. Sometimes it’s a little much.

In the future, as they write more music, I’d really like to see their understanding of harmony mature and deepen. Instead of shifting the harmony constantly through major chords, they’d be better served by simplifying some of the chord changes or chilling on one chord for a while while the riffs roll. Still, the harmonic immaturity won’t stop you from having a h*ckin blast at a 19 Miles Per Hour show. These guys are WILD. I had so much fun watching them, and they’re all beyond technically proficient. They’re a really good live band.

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Miss Valentine

Like Say It Back, these guys also began their set with an extended instrumental build, but it was far better executed and rolled right into a stripped down, laid back groove. Their tones were clean and verbed out, and they felt very much like The Moss, Cardinal Bloom, and the Backseat Lovers with a dash of twenty one pilots’ “Ride” and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Give It Away” thrown in.

Miss Valentine performing at Velour Live Music Gallery. Photo by Jera Haslem.
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To say their bassist was skilled is an understatement. This guy was walking and slapping all over the place, and he was doing it tastefully with a fat, round tone that perfectly suited their vibe. He also knew when to throw on his fuzz at the right time. Initially, the songwriting was engaging, rhythmically and harmonically varied, and definitely stood out from the rest of the bands tonight – eschewing the 00s revival vibe for something very Utah modern.

That being said, I feel like the song structure was a little too esoteric and hard to follow. Even though the frontman was a great vocalist and lead guitarist (his solos were FIRE, eliciting spontaneous cheers from the crowd), they lack the hooky songwriting ability of The Moss, Cardinal Bloom, and Backseat Lovers. Even though these guys did more with three band members than the other bands did all night, they lost me by the end of the set. Too much jamming, not enough of a relatable emotional journey.

Who Won?

In the end, The What-Nots were announced as the winner of night 1.

The What-Nots after winning Night 1 of Velour’s Winter 2022 Battle of the Bands. Photo by Jera Haslem.

Velour typically kicks their BOTB weeks off with a bang, and this night upheld that time honored tradition. Each of these bands is worth a see. They all have so much potential. I want to hear a more polished Say It Back after they have a few more shows under their belt; everyone in the local scene has to experience 19 Miles Per Hour live at least once; Miss Valentine could really be something huge; and I can’t wait to see The What-Nots again this weekend in the finals. It was a fun night.

Velour’s Winter 2022 Battle of the Bands returns tonight with Sage Lane, Maren Gayle, JollyTime, and Jordan Moyes. Doors open at 7:30 PM. Tickets are $10. 

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2 replies on “Velour Winter 2022 Battle of the Bands Recap – Night 1”

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