This past week, from Monday through Thursday (Jan. 8-10), Vienna VA’s Jammin Java hosted the Mid-Atlantic Band Battle #8 in which five or six regional bands competed each night to be the one act advancing to finals in February. The winner that night will receive $2500 cash, a headlining show at Jammin Java, studio time at Cue Recording Studios and other musician-friendly goodies.
The Band Battle doesn’t rely on audience response to determine the winner, instead using a judges panel that scores each band on criteria like musicianship and songwriting. It’s always a pleasure to see local talent get wider recognition and, having judged previous Jammin Java Band Battles, it was great to be asked to join in again. Here’s how it went down on the second night (Tuesday, January 8) with photos taken from the judges’ table.
The Whether Men, a trio of high school guys from the DC metro area opened with a quick set of alternative rock that included a cover of Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life.”
While Everything Kunex calls itself a reggae band on its Facebook page, the guys who took the stage in the second slot of the night moved easily between laid-back grooves and some serious thrashing.
Third up, The Duskwhales made an immediate impression with their sartorial sense of humor - the keyboard player wearing a tiara and Star Trek uniform shirt and the bass player looking spiffy in a cardigan-and-tie combo. The music was equally lighthearted; you can sample the band’s 2012 indie pop CD, “Catpurse” and/or buy the digital album at a pay-what-you-wish price at Bandcamp.
The second half of the night opened with a pleasing set from Shade Parade, a pop/rock quintet from Woodbridge, VA which cites the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Kings of Leon as influences. Their three-song digital release is also available on Bandcamp, there are numerous well-shot live videos at ReverbNation and, even better, they’ll be returning to Jammin Java on Saturday, January 26 as openers for the HeLo CD release party.
The momentum continued when seven players took the stage in the form of Arteless, a veteran band with four years of experience on the NoVA scene. Fronted by two female vocalists and a male rapper, the funky outfit packed a lot of diverse material into their short set, working out a fusion of rock, soul, hip hop and blues.
If following such a high-energy act was daunting, final act of the night Zero Mercury was up to the task. The power trio offered a blast of powerful rock with a progressive/psychedelic touch and brought the evening’s musical competition to an exciting close.
And then it was time to tally the scoring sheets. It’s not my place to reveal the judges’ thinking - I actually don’t see the other scores and, like any artistic competition, it’s hugely subjective - but I suspect it was another close call that enabled only one of the talented acts to be declared the victor. That winner was Arteless, who will return for the finals on February 22, along with the top dogs from each of this week’s other three nights.
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