By Tracy Dietlin
During the month of August I was fortunate enough to be included on the judging panel for The Hood’s Summer Showdown: Battle of the Bands. I was joined by Brian Blueskye from CV Independent and Ming Bob of Ming Bob Productions, with Robin Linn of Desert Rock Chronicles sitting in for Bob the first week. CV Weekly’s Phil Lacombe served as the host for the event.
There were 3 weeks of preliminary rounds with 4 bands performing each week and the winning band advancing to the finals, which took place last Thursday, August 28. The winner of the first week was Grand Scovell, who ended up winning the Finals and the $1000 check from The Hood. The second week the winner was Right On Right On, who took third place in the Finals and a $100 gift card to Guitar Center and Burning Bettie, who won the third week, placed second in the Finals, garnering them a $250 check.
I have to mention what a great job Hood promoter Jack Kohler did putting this event together. I also have to give a shout out to Pat and Colin Hood for providing the venue for these bands to perform and compete. And a big congrats to all of the bands that competed, gave it their all, and did a great job.
Aside from the 3 Finalists: Grand Scovell (winner, on this issue’s cover), Burning Bettie (second place and on CV Weekly’s cover on 8-21-14, check out article online) and Right On Right On (third place with article in this week’s issue), there was a cornucopia of talent that truly amazed me as I had not seen any of these bands perform before, with the exception of the Hive Minds, who I watched do one song at the CV Music Awards in May (they have appeared in several articles in CV Weekly including Derek Jordan Gregg on the cover of the 8-7-14 issue).
To say I was impressed and blown away by the caliber of talent is an understatement. There were several standout bands and I would like to mention a few of them in the notes that I took from the judging table.
Kyd Icarus- They came out and on the first song all I could say was “Wow!” Guitarist Juan Espino, aka “Q”, was absolutely phenomenal and should definitely be nominated for next year’s Best Guitarist at the CV Music Awards. I say the same for frontman Krystopher Do, who came out like a pro and took command of the stage and every beat of every song reminding me of a mix of Mick Jagger, Brandon Boyd and Prince. They even performed 2 ballads showing their versatility. I see huge success for these young men. They will be performing Friday, Oct. 24 at Schmidy’s Tavern.
Burning Bettie– While I had heard frontman Giorg Tierez perform solo acoustic, I was not prepared for what he was going to bring to the competition with his full band. They started out with a grunge sound then moved to a high energy song with punk undertones. They flowed seamlessly from one song to another and out of all the bands that competed in the 4 weeks they are the band that I still have 3 of their songs stuck in my head. With well written lyrics, catchy choruses and a charismatic frontman with a cohesive band to back him, I see them playing much bigger venues in the near future.
Plastic– Again I have to comment on the frontman, Carrick O’Dowd, as he came out and was mesmerizing with his guttural screams and raw energy and passion. The bass player even lost his glasses on stage but kept playing and never missed a beat. Their songs build up to a crescendo that makes you want to go along for the ride and they possess great musicianship. I also see a bright future for these young men.
Hive Minds– CV Weekly has done several articles on them and there is a reason. Because they are awesome! Derek Jordan Gregg knows how to command the stage and hold the audience in the palm of his hands. He is also a gifted songwriter and had just written a song 2 days before “I Want to Be Over You,” and performed it like he had been singing it for months. “Firewater” is foot stomping goodness and I didn’t want it to end. “Mexican Lady” is also hit-worthy. They came across like consummate professionals.
Gutter Candy– Frontman Shawn Mafia exudes sexuality, cockiness and humor. He reminded me of a combination of Sean Wheeler and Jesse Hughes, which is a compliment. With its in your face lyrics, “Put it Right Here,” really drove it home. They were very entertaining. The bass player was also a standout with his amazing classic rock scream and vocals. I can’t wait to watch Shawn strut his stuff at their next show.
Subourbon Outlaw– These guys know how to rock. They came out strong and balls to the wall rock with a punk flavor. They were technically tight and the drummer was amazing. Shane Wetzel’s vocals were impressive and I look forward to hearing this band perform again soon.
Sunday Funeral– This band was engaging with 2 lead vocalists. The drummer was awesome and I enjoyed the keyboards, which added layers and texture to their songs. You can see them perform next at Schmidy’s Tavern on Friday, September 26.
Accidental Kings- This band had the toughest spot of being the first band on the first week. They showed strong instrumental musicianship on songs like “Astral” and Scarlet” and got better as they got more comfortable throughout their set.
Electric Lucie– This band seemed to have the most “desert rock” sound. Their bass player was the standout in the band.
Gojiro– With a seasoned bass player, a talented guitarist and a female lead singer with quite a vocal range, this band was very different from the others.
All said and done I think this was the favorite part of my summer. Thanks to The Hood, the bands and everyone involved for making August in the desert NOT suck!