A little numbers game for you: 4 bands per night, 3 songs, 2 qualifying rounds, 1 that moves closer towards living their dream.
In an otherwise quiet evening in downtown Indianapolis, fans and restaurant patrons alike gathered downtown at their local Hard Rock Cafe for a night of food, drinks, rock memorabilia, and four of the finest local bands in Indy. Four would enter, but only one can move on for a shot at a trip to London with a little spending cash, bragging rights, and an opportunity to share the stage with Paul McCartney or Pearl Jam.
The Deuce from X103 played emcee for the night. He kicked off the night by introducing us to the judges for the night, including the likes of Jon E. Gee (of John Mellencamp band fame). Together, he and three others (one being IndyConcerts.com’s own Barrett Young) held the fates of our four aspiring participants in their hands. They would be judging based on performance, stage presence, originality and more. Enough talk. Let’s get started:
Up first was Junk Box. From my own past experience in being in a band, going first was always an unenviable position. You don’t know what to expect; the crowd is usually unreceptive; and you’re setting the bar for the rest of the night. Their three-song performance speaks for itself, but what does their drummer Reggie think?
“Done better. Done worse,” he said. “Just do your best and have a good time. You know what I mean?”
Already a veteran of the battle, he knows anything can happen. One thing is certain:
“Just have a good time and do the best you can,” he said. “Look forward to being blessed with another day.”
Junk Box has finished their set. While they clear out and the next one moves in, life moves on at the Hard Rock. The bar is as busy as ever, and people are still enjoying their meals and the impressive rock memorabilia that would make even Tom Fontaine jealous. I’ve heard of this next act, but never actually listened to them. Let’s see how this goes.
Glass Halo is next. Knowing the name of the venue they’re playing, they live up to the moniker. Glass Halo
brought the rock to the Hard Rock and put on an impressive set. Sure, they used that tired rock n’ roll cliche of jumping in the air while playing, but they showed some life. They showed some energy. They showed that they belong on that small wooden stage playing their hearts out.
“I think we did really well,” said Aaron Enneking, guitarist for Glass Halo. “I think we nailed it.”
They’re no rookies to the battle of the bands circuit. Last November, they placed first in the Battle of Birdy’s out 66 acts. Having that kind of momentum, I think they liked their chances.
“I feel confident that if we get to those final four (spots in the final round), I think people are going to see that we have a unique sound and take notice of that,” Enneking said.
Plus who wouldn’t want a chance to go overseas?
“(To play in England) That’s a dream of mine,” Enneking said. “I love British bands. Most of my favorite bands are British so it would just be awesome to go to the festival. See all the different bands. As well as play.”
Fans are starting to get more into it. It went from being a handful of people by the stage at the beginning of the night to have a crowd by it. New Addiction has some pretty loyal fans it looks like. Let’s see if they can top the last one.
Okay, so there was no moshing or crowd surfing, but they put on a good, energetic live show. They showed life on stage and their efforts showed in how well the crowd reacted to them.
“We’re lucky. We’re blessed,” said Rodger. “We have a good crowd following. They’re very loyal to us, and we love to meet ‘em all…get to know everybody.”
Also a veteran to other battles, they have a unique strategy to how to handle everything.
“We’ve been in a lot of battles,” said drummer Ben Montgomery, “so we try not to think too much about it going into it. Just do the best show we an and have the fans enjoy what we do.”
Though veterans they are, this is their first time participating in this particular battle. In fact, they didn’t even know about it until a few weeks ago. After going through the process of entering, they finally heard they were in it last Friday.
“So we had that much time, I mean less than a week to get people out here,” Montgomery said, “but, (it) turned out well.”
The unpredictable nature of the contest is apparent through this band as well. Their underlying message?
“As long as we have fun,” said guitarist Matt Cussen. “The prize is cool either way, but even if we finish last place and have fun, then we win in our minds.”
Alright, one more to go. Everywhere I look it seems I’m running into these girls all wearing hand-made
shirts that say “AE.” Of course, it took a while for me to realize it stood for “Alter Ego.” Anytime their name was even mentioned, these girls went crazy. Needless to say, it was, well, loud. Then I heard them play and then my definition of loud was revised.
It seemed like these girls were screaming louder than anything. It was like that video I watched of The Beatles playing at Shea. In one part of the set, the crowd was actually singing louder than frontman Matt Hurt. This was due to another reason:
The mic cut out.
Any normal singer would’ve panicked, but not this guy. He represents almost the best kind of frontman: the kind that is so charismatic he demands your attention from start to finish. Along with that, he’s also a pretty good singer. His M. Shadows-esque attitude meshed perfectly with their blend of hard rock and alternative. Hearing so much about them at the beginning of the night, I had to see what the hype was about. Needless to say, next time I should just believe the hype and save some time doing that.
All four bands did a great job, but alas, only would be crowned the winner. We’ll be seeing them in the finals April 30.
“Everybody’s got a good chance at this thing,” said Hurt, “and hopefully the judges will see it the same way.”
The judges apparently saw it the same way Hurt did. Alter Ego was declared the winner and now has two weeks to prepare for what may be the most important show of their lives (thus far).
How does it feel to win?
“Dude, it feels great, man. It feels great,” said Myles B., bassist for AE. “I’ve been doing this for a very long time and this is a great band. Great guys, a lot of passion. It feels good to be noticed for it.”
Round 2 goes on next Thursday (April 22), where the next crop of bands will get their shot. AE will be waiting to see who their next opponent is. In closing, Myles B. leaves them with this message:
“Good luck to all the other bands that are in this next week and we’ll see whoever makes it out of it.”