There can be only One
Being in a Battle of the Bands must be tough. You have to bare your soul and songs in front of peers and a potentially indifferent audience, in hopes of winning out against other artists. How can one even judge music? Who would win a fight between an incredibly accomplished country band and a totally rippin’ metal band? It’s not quite an exact science.But perhaps the only thing worst than being in one of those bands is being forced to judge them. I was in the unenviable position this past Friday at local radio station KCMV’s first Battle of the Bands contest, held at Mango’s Mountain Grill. The winner would win $500 and go on to compete in a statewide competition at Copper Mountain later this month. The grand prize winner gets recording time, prizes and the opportunity to open for legendary guitarist Dickey Betts at Guitar Town in Copper Mountain.Unfortunately, there is no standard to be applied when judging music. Carin Mari and Pony Express started the show with a skillful blast of country and bluegrass-inflected Western music; thoroughly rooted in traditions of the West, lead singer and guitar player Carin Lechner sang in a clear, high voice about open spaces and the colors of the Rocky Mountain west. Her brothers ably backed her up on bass and mandolin. Unbelievably, Carin is only 15 years old.”The first (songs) I wrote came to me when I was sleeping,” says Lechner, of Buena Vista. “But the first one we played I wrote for a blind friend of mine in Wisconsin who wanted me to describe the colors of the west.”
Carin and her brothers were just passing through on the way to gigs in Wyoming. Later this year, Pony Express will perform at John Wayne’s Centennial birthday celebration in California.The next band couldn’t be more different, in both name and sound: Filthy McNasty rocked a grungy, free-form set of rock punctuated by humorous improved bits from the singer.”We wrote this song 15 minutes ago,” said the singer to the audience. “It’s called ‘Nachos!'”Country, rock and bluegrass stalwarts Schwing Daddy followed, performing a mellow, acoustic rock set punctuated by melodic mandolin solos. They performed catchy original tunes “It’s a Long Road” and “It Really Takes Me Home.”Bryce Silianoff and Keegan Castor, both 14, of Summit County took the stage next as Sight Unseen. The band had previously won a Breckenridge battle of the bands with their formative but unique take on rock. Some songs seemed firmly rooted in modern alternative, but their final song had a Stones-y groove, and guitarist Silianoff even threw in some impressive Keith Richards windmill stage moves for good measure.”We just wanted to rock it out,” says Silianoff. “We just wanted to play it by ear and pull out all the stops.”
Sight Unseen drummer Castor pulled off perhaps the most impressive feat of the night: playing in a full arm cast that left his arm stiff and crooked at the elbow.”I got the cast a couple of days ago from skateboarding when I broke my arm,” he says. “I actually broke it twice, but I didn’t want to give up (the gig).”PBR Street Gang overcame a malfunctioning guitar amp to deliver a set of swampy rock that was one part Jimi Hendrix to one part Pixies. The band ploughed through technical difficulties by bantering with the audience and improvising verses.”I didn’t like that verse anyway,” sand PBR’s frontman, who is from Steamboat.Edwards’ Serafiend pumped up the volume with loud thrash metal, even inspiring an impromptu mosh pit in the middle of a few wailing guitar solos. But Moose Knuckle did them one better by getting nearly the whole bar dancing to their beer-soaked anthems “Newcastle Brown Ale” and “Stupid Drunk Bitch.” Their stage presence was augmented by the drummer’s habit of ending songs by pounding on the large gong just behind him.
Methods closed the show with a hip-hop inflected set of reggae rock. Featuring members from celebrated locals initfortim, the awkward-looking frontman shut down doubters by spouting assured rap verses while being backed by the tightest band of the night. After filling the dance floor, they had to wait their turn to find out who would emerge triumphant.In a separate contest geared toward each of their respective genres, any band could’ve won. But only one band could move on, and Methods took the crown. With their confidence and poise, they rocked the Mango’s crowd hardest, and now they’ll have the chance to do the same at Copper. But look out for the other bands on the roster – they could be next.Arts & Entertainment writer Ted Alvarez can be reached at 748-2939 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado
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