The Grand Finale of 2011’s Last Band Standing at the WoW Hall, Eugene, Oregon rocked the house and found one band left standing!
With The Lowmen not able to play due to a schedule conflict, there were four bands entering the finals – Atension, Eastman Band, This Patch of Sky, and Harness Unseen. We had a stunning turnout – thank you Eugene for coming to support local live music!! Only one band remains after the votes cast by the audience are counted, and that band gets a lot of fun stuff – 32 hours of studio sessions at Don Ross Productions, live performance on the Eugene Weekly stage at the Eugene Celebration, and I heard a rumor of an equipment trailer… not to mention all the press coverage from the same. It wasn’t a battle to the death, but there was only one band left standing by the end of the night… and no, I’m not going to tell you who the winner is yet (and for those of you who skip the review to find out – ::SMACK:: – chill already, you impatient thugs!)
First band up – Atension (2 stars)
These guys have so much potential, but tonight’s performance was not their strongest unfortunately –
What worked: Wyatt on drum kit is amazing, they still absolutely nailed the changes in various time signatures. Andrew’s bass runs were dead on, and the two guitars (Matt Bailey on lead and front man Matt Zhun on rhythm) bounce back and forth like mischievous kids playing tag. Clearly introducing each song title was definitely helpful!
What could have been better: Zhun’s lead vocals still sound weak and forced, but will continue to get stronger with time I am sure. The guitars are still not in tune with each other or the bass, which doesn’t help the lead vocal tracking.
In conclusion: I like this pop-rock band, but they do have some challenges. Don’t stop working on your material, guys – I wanna see you again in a year when you just begin to come into your potential awesomeness!
Second band up – Eastman Band (4 stars)
Set List: “Facebook Friend,” Neighborhood,” “Girls Like You,” Last Band Standing,” “Blood Suckin Bastards”
I suspect the guys were just the tiniest bit stressed, it wasn’t their best set but they still nailed every single song –
What worked: John’s vocals are great, crawling into a scary basement growl then soaring into a nerve-bending howl, with the lyrics all completely understandable from word to word. His guitar work is stunning – I absolutely love the harmonic riffs which are perfectly placed in “Facebook Friend” and “Blood Suckin Bastards.” Terry’s drums were excellent, and Jimmy’s bass pounds. The floor was full of screaming fans with hands in the air. I especially liked the addition of “Girls Like You” in the set, showcasing John’s guitar work in particular. They do a great job of playing to the crowd – directing lyrics, making eye contact, slapping hands, moving from stage left to right to connect. It always cracks me up when they play “Last Band Standing” – they have no shame, but it completely works! Perfect sound levels as well (thanks for listening to my recommendations, Jeff!)
What could have been better: Energy wasn’t as high or focused as I’ve seen from them previously – just a matter of less stressing about the competition and more sleep, guys!
In conclusion: For your basic no-holds-barred, in your face (literally) rock, this band fits the bill! I will be poking them frequently and repeatedly to be doing more local venues now that this is all over (but the shouting).
Third up – This Patch of Sky (3 1/2 stars)
Set list: (unknown)
An excellent instrumental rock band (with isolated screamo lyrics thrown in), John Eastman says they remind him of Pink Floyd (I can see that) –
What worked: This is group of musicians who love what they do, and you can see it every time they play. I’ve heard them perform a stronger set before, but it was still a decent showing. Andrew and Kit do an awesome job on guitars, and Kit’s mouth harp adds a unique twist. Nate’s drums were excellent with Joel on bass fitting in like hand in glove. With lots of fans at the stage, they gave us a great show!
What could have been better: Again, I just didn’t feel that their hearts were completely in it – and as much as they are outstanding musicians, without lyrics for a “hook” and more connection with the audience, they definitely have a path of more resistance before them.
In conclusion: A perfect band to rock out with – I know we will continue to see them in the area and hope they have the opportunity to do some national touring.
Fourth up – Harness Unseen (4 stars)
Set list: (unknown)
They remind me a bit of Soundgarden and, despite the fact that these guys are from Roseburg, they are an amazing band –
What worked: They have a firm grasp on the consummate use of various time signatures within a song. Everything about their set screamed that they were 100% invested in this performance. Timing was absolutely flawless, Justin’s bass nailed both percussion and foundation for the Jacob’s flowing guitar riffs, and James’ drums were freaking outrageous. They had an amazing number of friends and fans there, who were pounding right along with each song. For sheer bad-a$$ hard rock, these guys are awesome!
What could have been better: Jacob’s lead vocals were difficult to understand (try backing just a tad off the mic and enunciating just a bit more), and they could work the audience more aggressively. Intros for the songs by title would give us a good map of how to find their stuff online when a particular song catches our attention during a live performance.
In conclusion: Douglas County needs to step up to the plate – these guys are so close to perfect already, and they had to come to Lane County to get any serious attention. If they had been a Lane County band, and with the addition of clearer vocals, song intros, and better audience contact, they would have ACED this competition and gotten a 5 star rating here!
So, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…
This time we stuck around to hear the announcement by DL from NRQ from the results of the audience votes. After an unsuccessful attempt by a drunk Harness Unseen fan who tried to grab and run off with the Eastman Band voting box, the boxes were collected and rushed off to the green room to be tallied. When DL opened the door just before midnight with empty boxes in hand, the crowd (significantly smaller but still decently represented) started cheering. He jumped to the stage, grabbed the mic, and announced:
“… and the winner is… EASTMAN BAND!!!”
and the screams from the crowd made the windows shake! It was an awesome moment – to be able to share that with everyone there, rushing the guys, pounding their backs, hugs and tears and cheering – I’m still shaking my head.
Thank you to all the bands who participated in the 2011 Last Band Standing – and thank you to everyone who came out to support and encourage them. Here’s a challenge to all Eugene music lovers – GET OUT AND SEE OUR LOCAL LIVE MUSIC!!! Keep reading this column as The Club Circuit begins its annual tour of Lane County’s live music venues: spotlighting clubs, featuring live band interviews, and of course reviews from bands performing throughout the Willamette Valley!