By Andy McFerren
Much like Mike Romero covered in his preview of The Boardwalk Battle of the Bands, The Boardwalk caters to the alternative and rock acts of the scene: the harder, grittier side of the scene that you won’t typically catch at Velour. And let me tell you, as someone who usually feels a little out of place at pretty much any show I go to, seeing as I can look like I walked straight out of a Brooks Brothers catalogue, this was no exception. I can only imagine how judge Jane Beeson felt. Not to say that she can’t hold her own, but the music played tonight couldn’t be further from her own indie pop.
I was not only there at the Battle of the Bands to cover the night for Provo Music Magazine, but I was there to judge (as will the other writers covering the other nights this week). Each band was judged on four major categories: musicianship, lyricism, set flow, and crowd involvement. Crowd voting by way of a decibel meter at the end as the audience screamed for who they liked the most also played a factor.
Gagg Nancy kicked off the night for us before the emcee even had a chance to welcome everyone out and introduce the first band. This might have gone against them in the end as much of the crowd was still trickling in to the venue. It’s tough going first.
The band’s music is an eclectic mix of punk, ‘90s alternative, Nu metal and even blues. It could just be me, but I didn’t catch a single word that was sung. Given their style and sound, however, I’m not really sure that was a goal.
Their guitarist certainly knew how to shred, and their drummer led the band from behind. If you like a heavier sound, then this is for you.
I don’t think I’ve experienced a greater whiplash from one band’s genre to another as I did from Gagg Nancy to Loafa. It was a transition from what I just described above to a band that was jazzy alternative rock. That’s the best I can describe it.
The stage was crowded as six people took the stage for Loafa. There was so much was going on during certain parts of their set that it was a little hard to keep track of everything, but they played a tight set. For how many people were in the band, it was weird how frequently most of the band suddenly stopped playing and went with minimal sound. They are an all or nothing band.
It’s easy to go unnoticed in a band with three guitarists, but the bassist made himself known with some pretty slick grooves and great backing vocals. Plus, his beard was second to none, and if he will forgive the comparison, his beard was so thick it reminded me a Wooly Willy toy.
This is completely unrelated to anything, but If you’re familiar with the band Sharing out of Logan, Utah, the lead guitarist of Loafa looked exactly like Sharing frontman Spencer Felix. It took a few moments of deliberation between me and fellow judge Jane Beeson, but we ultimately came to the conclusion that it was in fact not him.
AURHE isn’t just a band whose name I constantly misspell (never remembering which comes first – the “R” or the “H”) but they’re also a great pop punk band. They reminded me of a mix between Paramore (if Hayley Williams went screamo) and Coheed and Cambria.
I have to say that vocals were not a strong suit of most of the bands tonight (mostly due to stylistic choices of the bands), but AURHE was the exception. She definitely had the biggest range of the night, from belting to some classic screaming – a range that really impressed me and the other judges.
I’m not sure the punk trio played the tightest set of the night, but they had the most cohesive sound that meshed better as a whole than any of the other bands. I also didn’t think they sounded as full as the other bands, but that was most likely because they followed a band that literally had twice as many people in it.
Rejected Takeoff finished out the night, and it was an interesting comparison following AURHE since both bands based their sound in pop punk.
Rejected Takeoff did the thing of many pop punk bands of old where one singer had cleaner, more nasally vocals, with another that had more gravelly vocals that did the heavy lifting and screaming. This co-vocalist even dipped into the rapping a la Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park.
They sounded the tightest from the get-go, and it definitely helped that the band had the biggest production of the night, bringing their own lighting rig and smoke machines.
They meshed well together and sounded good, but they lacked that something to really set them apart. AURHE, however, had those memorable vocals. Ultimately, I think this was the deciding factor as they went on to win the night. AURHE will advance to the finals on Friday.
Make sure to follow The Boardwalk on Instagram and check out “Wildflower” by AURHE.