And the winner is…

Posted: June 11, 2011 in Eugene Band Reviews
Tags: , , , , ,

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)

 
Set list: “California Dreaming,” “Make It Out Alive,” “Revelation,” “Alive Again,” and (I think it was called) “Montage” closing the set.

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!

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Comments
  1. Jonathon Smiley says:

    I have to say I am thoroughly disappointed in the Eugene music/scene. The band that won was in no means original or even something that would go anywhere. Seriously – Eugene is stuck in the 80’s and 90’s and can’t get away. 2 of these bands would have been booed right off the stage because of the era they are still trying to playing. Eastman band sound exactly like Pearl Jam (yuck!) and Harness Unseen had a Metallica sound.

    Your quote ” 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.” is utter BS. This Patch of Sky understands music and what it means these days. They have a much better chance to go anywhere with their music then the other 3 bands (in fact – I overheard the stage manager tell them afterwards they are welcome to play the WOW Hall anytime they want). 2 people had tears in their eyes after TPoS’ set (literally) while other people were up stage dancing. Somebody told them this statement after they played, “I loved how with no words for most of your song I could picture imagery And bring the song to life in my heart.”

    I find it funny how all the “older” people in the audience were more white trash and voted for Eastman Band while all the younger kids voted for TPoS. Why is this? TPoS understands this generation’s music.

    • thanks for the comments, Jonathon =) I agree with some of your views, I do disagree with some, and understand the rest. Music is (as I have mentioned before), an intensely personal experience. The universe is much bigger than the boxes most people try to fit it into. As Kit and I have previously discussed and agree on, music (and life) without passion is worse than pointless. I encourage you to continue to support local live music and absolutely following your passion!

  2. Jonathon Smiley says:

    Your view on this band just kills me, that’s all. I also understand that you probably grew up with bands like Eastman which is why you dig them; and that’s totally fine.

    After talking with the group last night, I found that TPoS has had 2 record labels (Triple Crown Records and Suicide Squeeze Records) recently offer them record deals in which they turned down because they aren’t ready to hit the road 5-6 months of the year. They said, “We’re just waiting for the right label that will allow us to do what we want. We’re all young and not in a hurry to “go big”. When the right label comes along we’ll know and we’ll pursue it.” These guys have to be the most humble of dudes I’ve ever met, as well as the friendliness.

    You may want to re-evaluate your comments that they probably won’t get anywhere because of no vocals. I also learned last night that they have sold 400+ digital copies of their album overseas. Because they don’t have vocals, there is no language barrier. These are some smart peeps.

    • absolutely – and if TPoS sees anything in my column that they think is actually false, I am sure they will be the first to let me know! I didn’t say they weren’t good, I didn’t say they had no future… but you ask them if they put on their best performance last night (and remember I have seen them LIVE four times in the past month and a half) and see what they say =) Also remember that I have interviewed MOST of the bands I have reviewed (even Cage The Elephant, Foster The People, Jimmy Eat World, etc.) so I know personally that without exception, the majority of musicians (famous or not) are absolutely true to themselves… and I’m gonna hold them to the same standards I hold everyone else to (hence the ratings), regardless of the genre. You should also take a look in TCC archives for the recent OOB columns – I actually don’t care all that much for Pearl Jam or Metallica (although I think any band being compared to them is NOT going to see that as a slam but more like a huge compliment) – my personal musical tastes run to new alt/heavy rock, and I’m really excited about some of the new stuff coming out. But that’s just me personally – nebbermind those are the folks debuting in the top 10 of Billboard’s 200… I obviously haven’t a clue about what I’m talking about!!

  3. Andrew says:

    I’ve got to disagree with this, “Again, I just didn’t feel that their hearts were completely in it”. We all felt like this was one of the best sets of the last few shows we’ve done. I walked off stage soaking wet from sweet and a girl told me the last song brought tears to her eyes. I think you missed our hearts in the songs. I feel like we poured ourselves out last night and connected with the people that were there for more than the voting side of the competition. Absolutely no regrets and wouldn’t change a thing of how the night went or turned out.
    Thanks again to everyone who came and supported all of us.
    -Andrew TPoS

    • okay – perhaps it was just not the best sound in that venue, or maybe you guys were a bit tired? It just didn’t have the same energy you had when you opened for Floater, or at the LBS semi-finals a couple weeks ago … that’s the problem with being such excellent musicians – you get held to the highest standards (those being what you’ve done previously) =)

  4. Kit says:

    That’s funny – I was told multiple times it was by far our best performance yet! I personally felt like it was one of our best. But – each person has a different view which is perfectly ok. There really is no sense in arguing since music since its suppose to be an enjoyment.

    Thank you Jonathon for your thoughts and it was cool meeting you last night. And thank you Club Circuit for thinking we are excellent musicians and holding us to higher standards 🙂

    -Kit TPoS

  5. Andrew says:

    It’s all good. We have no regrets or excuses whatsoever. We’re all really happy with how the night went and it was a win for us to be able to play finals and make some new friends. We feel lucky and blessed every time we get to play music and this was no different. Congrats again to the Eastman Band and best wishes to all the other bands who participated in the event.

  6. vanhaunagan says:

    was tpos the bubble gum punk band? very bad if so, very bad indeed…

    • umm, no, This Patch of Sky played third, I would definitely NOT call them a “bubble gum punk” band!! you may be referring to the first band that played (the only one I can think of that sounded close to “bubble gum punk” – I think they do sound a bit pop-rock) and they do have some things to improve on… =)

  7. Jeff Bull says:

    Thanks Kit,
    This Eastman’s manager and Live Engineer, I felt that your performance as a group was well worth the experience!
    You guys ever need an engineer to step in for you just let me know, always glad to be in the mix of creative kick ass rock, I thought it was most excellent!
    Like to give a shout out to all the Bands, Staff, Family & Friends involved in the 2011 ‘LAST BAND STANDING”
    Thanks to John Henrys, KNRQ, Ozone Music and Editor of The Club Circuit and all other sponcers involved!
    Something to remember for us all….
    .When your time has come and your long gone…….The music will still be here……in every form…..in every way……and enjoyed in its differences by everyone in there own way!
    Its not about the musicians, its about the calling of the music, and what it represents and means.
    LONG LIVE ROCK & ROLL……It will see you all at your best…….. and worst!
    J. Bull
    STUDIO X PRODUCTIONS

  8. Kit Day says:

    Thank you, Jeff! It was certainly a pleasure meeting you. I’m sure we’ll cross paths again.

  9. It is always hard to find well-informed people on this subject topic, you sound like you are aware of exactly what you are talking about! Bless you

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