By Mitch Tousley
The Boardwalk was a packed house, feeling nearly sold out by the time the last act took the stage during night 2. Everyone in the audience was excited to be there and support their friend’s band. The Boardwalk’s atmosphere was warm and welcoming and was made all the more exciting by the short announcements and interjections made by the owner, Brian. Let’s dive in.
Mom Dad & Me
The night kicked off with some Midwest Emo-adjacent guitar riffs and lyrics straight out of a pining teen’s novel-length text to their crush. Mom Dad & Me’s set was teen romance and its subsequent angst on full display. Each of their songs had great dynamic contrast between the more restrained verses and explosive choruses.
The band’s third song opened with a reverb-drenched guitar lead reminiscent of a Sonic Youth track. This song had the band’s smoothest and most singable chorus contrasted with short and percussive yelps. Mom Dad & Me’s next song opened with a vocal duet well-fit for an Instagram live stream accompanied by beachy 7th chords. The breakdown of this song was rife with confident drum fills.
The last couple songs had a couple messy transitions and guitar solos, but the final song concluded with the audience joining the band for a kind of stomp/clamp anthem in a song that showcased all of the band’s strengths.
Backspun came out swinging and rocking hard. The lead guitar had some tuning issues, but they were quickly resolved. The first song ended with a drum break, which the vocalist used as an opportunity to introduce the band while transitioning to the second song. The third song had an almost ska feel and featured a killer guitar solo.
Throughout all of these songs, the vocalist was bringing a ton of energy to the set with his presence and delivery (not to mention his sick cheetah print outfit). The fourth song took a slower turn, being introduced with the thought that “two chords can be very powerful.” The song lived up to that idea and concluded the whole set with the lead singer rocking out off stage and in the crowd.
This band immediately caught my attention with the start of their set. They opened with some THICK guitar chords. The vocalist had an interesting voice and inflection that I can best describe as a twang-adjacent grunge croon meets Jello Biafra, but even that doesn’t fully capture the uniqueness of this vocalist.
Their second song weaved its way through several grooves before finally settling into a Primus-reminiscent feel. By the time they got to the breakdown of this song, it was clear that Cellar Dwellers had some serious chops and they weren’t afraid to flex their musical muscles. Their whole set was filled with both obvious and subtle musical technicality that added an interesting and engaging layer to their sound.
Their third song “Virginia” juxtaposed emo licks and Drum n Bass breakbeat drums against loud explosions of sound. Their songwriting is clearly thoughtful and intentional and was a great flavor to have at this night of Battle of the Bands. It was occasionally difficult to hear the vocalist and make out the lyrics, but they gave an overall excellent performance.
Parade the Bug
To conclude the night, a six-piece band of guys all wearing matching jumpsuits took the stage and started playing some song about a guy fighting the Kraken or something? While it was a stark contrast from the rest of the night, this opening prog-rock tune had a perfect balance of rocking hard and not taking itself too seriously.
A recurring thought was that “if Spinal Tap was actually cool, they would sound like these kids.” This band had excellent stage presence. They all looked insanely stoked on their keyboard player’s elegant piano intro into the second song, which morphed into an odd moment of the band (and everyone at the Boardwalk) rhythmically chanting “Oi!” like a very bizarre ritual I’ve never been privy to seeing before. This goofy episode coupled with the band’s clear prog influences sounded like something Patchy the Pirate would listen to (in the absolute best way possible).
Their third song opened with thrash metal guitar riffs and drums which set the stage for a song about all out war against… mermaids? This song featured very technical playing that the entire band was perfectly locked in on. I also heard some lines in the lyrics about a trojan fish that I am very interested in learning more about.
All in all, night two of the Boardwalk Battle of the Bands was a great success. Each band brought their best performance they could muster and the audience was excited for every performer. Ultimately, Parade the Bug took home the night’s win.
Make sure to follow The Boardwalk on Instagram and listen to “Cause of You” by Parade the Bug below! The next round starts tonight at 6:30 PM at The Boardwalk. Get tickets here.