Stinger’s Night Club had the roof rocked off on Friday April 20th. Four IE bands took the stage and battled it out in hopes of being the winner of The Battle of The Bands (a BellaKay Productions event hosted by Steve Wilson). The battle has been going on for 5 weeks. From all those bands, and all the FREE shows (yes FREE shows), the bands were gunning to claim victory. This was the first of two weekends of finals and from these epic battles, one band will rise the winner. The winning band will receive a free music video from Rockwell Anderson Media, gear, and the chance to share the stage with a National. What do the bands need to do to be the battle winners? What did you miss if you missed Friday Nights Show?
Stinger’s is a great venue not only for fans but for the bands themselves. The monster stage is nothing less than professional. Big enough for large bands to fit and move about and rock what they got. Stinger’s lighting is comparable to other rock venues. It is bright enough to see the performers and well done, adding an essential element of a rock show. Sound at Stinger’s is one of the best around for local venues. The pit (or dance floor), is big enough to bring out 100 plus fans. If you do not want the crowd experience from the floor, there is seating around the stage and no spot is a bad spot to sit and get your rock on.
Now that you have been introduced to the venue meet the bands.
Epigenic,the first band to take the stage, came out guns blazing. Describing themselves as space rock/new classic rock, the band is a must see. All seven members are true musicians. They are technically skilled as well as experienced showmen. At first glance you maybe surprised that the band has a few instruments that are not common to most rock bands. With a monster drum kit (this kit is so huge that some stages can not hold the kit and the full band), Mike Raya (drummer), proves its not the size of the kit that matters, it is the ability to play. He does not just play the kit; he commands it. That in itself separates him from most drummers who like to hide and rock out. He is loud, proud, and on it.
Other elements of the band include keyboard and harmonica, making Epigenic a bigger band, member wise. Kelly Klepper dances his fingers across those keys as if he is an ice dancer. Musically he nails it and you can hear the passion in the way he plays. Gene Burgett takes front and center when he rocks out on his harmonica. It is hard to make a harmonica a rocking instrument, but Burgett does it with ease, as if it is a common instrument in a rock band.
Steve Pearson handles his guitar the way a painter paints. He lets his talent flow and out of his playing drips the sound of awesomeness. The other guitarist, Russ Lugan, played mostly rythm but was clearly good enough to play lead. Tony the bass player keeps in step with the band. He is not a fade in the corner member. His talent is showcased as he plays with grace, power, and confidence.
All bands needs a good front man. Epigenic meets this criteria. Vocalists Colin Whalen posses a true classic rock voice. He enjoys engaging the crowd and keeping the set flow smooth while entertaining the fans. He is also not shy about leaving the stage to engage the fans and pull them to the front, a great tactic used to add energy to the show.
Being the first to take the stage is not always an easy task. The band has to let the fans know that it is going to be a good set and an event worth coming out for. Props Epegenic…you did this.
The Boogie Men were next to take the stage. The band was comprised of a drummer, a guitarist, and a female vocalist who played the keys. Mike on drums is a skilled, technical drummer and a crowd pleaser to watch. He knocks out those beats with ease…there is no style or genre the man cannot drum.
The bassist nailed everything he played with precision and style. His weapon of choice; a beautiful Fender Jaguar bass. Again, it’s not the instrument that makes the musician but the talent.
Chelsea was a mix of Jewel and Alanis Morissette in terms of sound and style. Not only did she have awesome set of pipes, she rocked the keys. It is hard to do double duty in a band but this lady did it and did it smoothly.
Casualty of Sinz stepped it up with an explosive set of “in your face” rock-out music. The band, fronted by Tracy Hammond, got the people on the floor and to the stage. Stirring the pit, the entire set was full of energy in true straight up Metal fashion. Guys, this lady gives you five out of five horns.
Drummer James “The Gouch” Cutler had that hard hitting metal drummer rythym. Coming together with the bass (Kenny Kessler). this rythym section created a tight metal sound. Guitarist Askur “Snuff” Moran and Richie “The Zombie” Pettengill, assaulted their strings in a twin guitar attack. Richie was what you would get if you crossed Dime and Zakk Wild (in terms of playing, not in look).
Spewing Metal vocals and nailing the sound, vocalist Tracy Hammond is a true metal front man. This band was true to their sound, giving the fans a true metal experience. If you have not seen them and you like Metal, make it a point to check them out.
Red Eye was the closer of the night. A reggae/rock band hailing from the Redlands area is worth a listen and you might catch yourself moving to their beats. True skill and talent is not lost on this group. They are tight and packed full of talent.
Vocals were shared by Kelley Mak and Paradox. The dual vocals complemented each other and I loved the way the voices melded together.
Bobby- Lo- Bass is credited with production. The rythym section of Red Eye (Aaron Spivey (drums), Richard Rump (rythym) and Jake Majuscule (keys) lend a solid and technical component to the band. Two thumbs up to them. Stepping in and killing it that night was guest conga player Rick Rodriguez.
Guitarist Steve Payne brought a hard rock edge to the sound of Red Eye. Truly a musician and not just a player, he was a stand out player.
All bands had/have the same criteria to meet as far as the battle. They have promote the show to their fans, bring as many fans to the show as possible, bring people to the floor, and they are also judged on sound, professionalism, and crowd reaction. The final battle took place on Friday 4/27/2012 – that article and pics will follow in a couple more days.
Support your local music scene by coming to shows, especially when they are FREE. These shows are free to the people who come out and also free to the bands to play. However, venues will not support live events if people do not show up. Also, remember your local band could be the next national.
Thanks for reading!
By: Melissa Anderson, http://www.rockwellunscene.com
Photos By: Rockwell Anderson Media (Melissa and Wes Anderson)