LAST BAND STANDING
John Henry’s – April 15, 2011
as reviewed by Laurel Hayles – “The Club Circuit”
Week Three of the 2011 “Last Band Standing” had a four-band lineup, but of course only one band can move on to the semi-finals. The past two weeks had been relatively easy, with only two bands each night playing 40 minute sets (and yes, I picked each week‘s winners – Atension Week 1, and Harness Unseen for Week 2). With four bands playing only 20 minute sets each, it is a little more difficult to really get a clear sense of a band’s relative strengths and weaknesses. Difficult perhaps, but not impossible for me! Just as an aside, note to the club sound guy – we might want to bring down the house speakers just a tick. When it is so loud that you can’t understand the music or vocals, it’s too loud.
Here is my review of the bands and their performances:
First up – Security In Numbers
They had a lot of energy, with folks in the front of the stage nodding their heads (not falling asleep!) to the beat, and at least two female fans at the incline tables who screamed at the end of each song (!!). Unfortunately, I didn’t find anything remarkable that stood out in their performance. The vocals were sloppy at times and adequate at others. They have a good lead guitarist (Asher Fay – love the green tennies!), and steady bassist (Josh Kile), but it was the drums (Joel Williams) that drive this band. I give them a 2.5 out of 5 and hope they continue to work on becoming stronger and clearer in both sound and direction.
Second – Destroy The Deck
I hate to say I know a band is gonna be great just by how they handle the sound check and tuning up, but I loved these guys before they ever started their set. With a completely different kind of hard rock, this band sets you on fire. Most of the folks in the club were on their feet and in front of the stage from the first opening chords, where they were glued for the entire performance. This band has a presence and style with awesome musicianship on top. What makes this group different is that they come across as a whole – which also makes it difficult to separate out what was remarkable about the individual musicians. Again, a challenge – but nothing outside of my skills!
Frontman Eli Pierzina’s vocals hit you where it hurts (and make you not just like the pain but want it), with great lead guitar riffs running throughout. Drummer Mike Capps keeps everyone in line with his driving beats, while bassist Colin Hicks guides with solid and steady runs. Rhythm guitarist Chris Cauble fills in with beauty and ties it all together. The vocals were amazing, and perfectly balanced. In summary, this band doesn’t play the music – they are the music. They definitely need a bigger venue. 4.5 out of 5 and my pick for Week 3.
Third – Dandelion Club
I want to say that I really liked this band, but there are a couple things that keep me from being able to say that. While I admire their style, their use of different time signatures throughout each song was noteworthy but the timing within those parts got a little bit lost at times. Harrison White on drums was strong and assured, and Max Reams on lead guitar just shines, with some amazing runs and riffs. Sam Hatley on bass tried to keep things tight but it just wasn’t enough.
Without any vocals (evidently Jeff Oliver was not able to make it), the performance was clever and appealing, but they just came across as a good (but not great) opening band. By the time they were finished with their set I was ready to see them go. I give them a 3 out of 5 (mostly for the effort rather than anything else).
Fourth – Happy Camp (Note: nothing posted online for band member info)
Even allowing for the fact that at this point almost everyone in the club was just flat-out exhausted, a stunning performance would have been welcome. Alas, it was not to be. Not that these guys were awful, just not stunning. The drums were heavy but excellently played, and the bass was solid. The lead guitarist ran some seriously nice riffs, but a rhythm guitarist is needed to fill in the holes. The vocals seemed strained and forced, and when the bassist did back up vocals (which amounted to little more than some periodic hoo-hooing), they did little except detract from the rest of the performance. Another 3 out of 5 for effort and good musicianship.