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Largest crowd yet turns out on Wednesday for Hard Rock Rising semi-final round

On the Avenue performing at the 3rd semi-final round of the Hard Rock Rising competition at the Tampa Hard Rock Cafe on April 9th.
On the Avenue performing at the 3rd semi-final round of the Hard Rock Rising competition at the Tampa Hard Rock Cafe on April 9th.
Keith Wilkins / KAM Music Publishing

TAMPA - A large crowd turned out this past Wednesday at the Tampa Hard Rock Café for the third and final Semi-final round in the Tampa regional's of the "2014 Hard Rock Rising Global Battle of the Bands" competition. According to officials, Wednesday’s competition had the largest turnout of all three semi-final shows.

Undercover Betty fans turn out for the bands performance last Wednesday in semi-final round of Hard Rock Rising.
Rick Stoots Productions

Wednesday night’s show featured three bands with three distinctively different sounds, battling it out on stage for the chance to advance to the finals.

First up on stage was Spring Hill rock band, Undercover Betty. Formed in January 2012, Undercover Betty is a 3-piece, all female rock band consisting of Rebecca Field (lead vocals/guitar), Connie Bonds (bass/vocals) and Kana Leimbach (drums/vocals). In the initial fan voting stages of the competition that kicked off in early February, Undercover Betty beat out all 132 other area bands by having the most downloaded song in the competition. If the competition was solely judged on fan participation alone, one would have to imagine that Undercover Betty would have been declared the winner. The majority of the audience were made up of Undercover Betty fans who showed up wearing Undercover Betty T-shirts and waving homemade banners and signs cheering on their favorite band.

The second band to take the stage that night was area hip-hop/pop/rock band, On the Avenue. Formed in October 2013, On the Avenue is a 7-piece act that mixes hip-hop vocals with rock guitar, making for a very commercial sound. The band consists of Aaron Forte (lead vocals), Stevie Jackson (vocals/MC), Kenny Evans (guitar/vocals), Mike Santana (guitar), Danny Ray Bowling (bass), Shawn Smaha (saxophone) and L.C. Butler (drums). When it was time for On the Avenue to take the stage, they proved that they not only meant business, but that they were there to win it as well. The band pulled off a highly energetic and entertaining show as well.

The final act of the night to take the stage was area metal band, Forgiving Silence. Forgiving Silence is a 4-piece metal band consisting of Shawn "Hurricane" Baril (lead vocals/bass), Tony Pettry (guitar), Fabrice "Fabo" Fanfan (drums) and Liz "Bunny" Turner (drums). When Forgiving Silence took to the stage, the audience knew right away that they were in for something different. This hard hitting metal band had two things about them that was very unique for a metal band. Not only did the band feature two drummers, but one of their drummers is a woman.

Even with all three bands giving their best performances that night, there seemed to be issues with the sound mixing right from the start of the competition. Though it did improve as the night went on, the sound started out with too much bottom end which seemed to aggravate much of the crowd and Undercover Betty lead singer & guitarist, Rebecca Field. Regardless of the sound issues, the competition kicked off with a highly excited and energetic crowed.

In the end there could only be one winner, and the judges, made up of representatives from 97X Radio, picked On the Avenue as the nights winner.

With their well deserved win, On the Avenue will move onto next weeks final round to compete against the two other semi-final round winners which includes Seven Years Past and The John Clark Band. The winner of next weeks final round will move on to represent the Tampa Bay area in the Global Hard Rock Rising competition for the chance to perform at the Hard Rock Live Music Festival on July 12th in Rome Italy.

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