By Andy McFerren
This was the last night of preliminaries ahead of tomorrow night’s finals at The Boardwalk. Tonight was full of surprises, and the results were super close. A lot of these acts performed during Velour’s Battle of the Bands competitions last year, and expectations were high.
The Lip got the night started. Usually bands who go first in a battle of the bands have a hard time with energy. This reggae trio, consisting of a drummer who played in a pair of Jesus sandals (you know the ones), was an exception.
Their sound was unique yet familiar. If surf rock and reggae had baby that sang like the Kooks, you’d get the Lip. Get those boys a horn section, and they could make some serious waves.
They really impressed me right out the gate, but that impression came and went throughout the rest of the set. The faster they went, the more fun I had, and so did the crowd, even causing a small mosh pit to break out at various times throughout their set.
Miss Valentine followed. They began with an intro as extra as a boxing entrance. Then, what I initially thought was going to be a heavy metal trio when the band first started playing, turned into a band that pushed genre cohesion the rest of their set. Their sound mostly settled into the greater umbrella of alternative rock.
The guitarist/lead singer could shred in the small interludes between verses but the band sounded a bit empty whenever he’d stop playing during his vocal performances, which at times dipped into rap adjacent vocals perfected by Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman, Anthony Kiedis. He had technical prowess, but the band still needs to make sure all the pieces fit. But despite the tempo changes and different styles of play, the bass player and drummer held it down.
I happened to be covering the Velour Battle of the Bands last winter when Health Care played, and I was excited to see them again. I was even more pleased to discover that they had improved since I saw them last.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Health Care, however, they are one Pokémon evolution above the kids from School of Rock. I mean this with the utmost respect. (School of Rock rules).
The band knows how to share the spotlight, knowing exactly when to highlight each member’s skills. At one point, the guitarist and bassist began strumming for the other which created a really funny visual.
While easily the most impressive vocals of the night, lead singer Alley Greer got off to a rocky start. She simply wasn’t nearly as sharp as I know she is capable of, and when you belt as loud as her, you need to be on point.
While they have improved in a lot of ways, they weren’t as sharp in others. I just know they could have played better. We love Health Care.
Sage Lane finished up the night doing what white dudes from Provo do best: indie rock filled with airy guitar guitar licks accompanied by borderline whiny vocals that we all know and have come to love from the genre.
For the most part, the band played a tight set. They sounded the most full, and they played with plenty of energy. The nature of the music will never get the crowd going as much as the genres some of the other bands play, but they made up for it in other ways.
They tried to switch things up a bit halfway through their set with a harder song, and it just didn’t work for me. If I had to give them advice between now and the final, I’d say stick to what you do best. No need to change it up.
Health Care probably deserved to win, but as I mentioned before, they didn’t play their best set. So much of a battle of the bands is playing your best on your night of the preliminaries. It’s a matter of who was the best band that night, and nothing else. That’s why Sage Lane got the “W” in the end. They played well.
Make sure to follow The Boardwalk on Instagram and listen to “Penny Board” by Sage Lane below! The finals start tonight at 6:30 PM at The Boardwalk. Get tickets here.