Battling Bands

The Core, XFest, musicians and me. Oh, my.


The Battle of the Bands served three purposes this year: one, to see who gets to call themselves the best. Two, to get the five bands who got the most votes--regardless of which round they played in--for the locals stage at XFest out at the Idaho Center this Saturday. And, three, although not intentional, was to introduce this music editor to lots of local music.

For the last six weeks, I have spent every Saturday evening at The Core for the Battle of the Bands. I was usually there by 6 p.m. and left sometime around midnight. I joined Big J and Melissa on 100.3 The X on Wednesday mornings to talk about who had played and who was coming up. It was a lot of work. Sure, I got to sit in a bar and listen to music. Sure, I got to be on the radio. Not a bad job if you can get it, but anything a person has to do becomes work. This job, however, turned out to be one of the coolest things I've ever had the opportunity to do. In six weeks, I saw and heard almost 50 bands. I met some great people: musicians, organizers, managers, employees and fans. I took plenty of notes during the last month and a half and following are just some of the highlights:

Week One--Endless Forever, Factory Air, Upinatem, Priapism, Slore, Dross, The Edison Agenda and Unhallowed

Going to XFest: None

Going to the semifinals: Slore

The crowd, though sparse, included teens, folks even older than me (these were family members for sure, which was a theme throughout the Battle. I saw plenty of parents and grandparents cheering on their burgeoning rock stars.) and quite a few musicians from bands that weren't battling but were out there showing support.

I picked a table with a clear view of the stage, ordered a cocktail from my waitress in waiting, Andrea and settled in. Eric Muniz of HC Entertainment (and one of the masterminds behind the competition), introduced each band, gave a shout out to Boise Weekly and 100.3 The X and let the musicians do their thing.

All the bands were entertaining, but Slore was especially interesting It's been a long time since I'd seen a band so young. Still in high-school, these guys have to work rehearsals around homework. They sounded great and I look forward to hearing more from them.

Week Two--Mark of Kain, Cestus, Kamphire Collective, ValenXthine, Switch Hitter and Datura

Going to XFest: None

Going to the semifinals: Mark of Kain, Kamphire Collective, Switch Hitter and Datura.

I took the same table as last time and the ever efficient Andrea was immediately at my side. Muniz again introduced the sponsors and the bands and invited everyone in the place to push the stage, dive, dance, scream or otherwise get into the music. And they did.

I got to meet Anthony, the drummer from Cestus, see/hear Switch Hitter and I also got the chance to meet most of the members of Kamphire Collective who added a fresh, funky sound to the night. I enjoyed the line-up as a whole, made a few new friends and started looking forward to the next round.

Week Three--The Franklin Coverup, Langley, Sons of Rage, Final Underground, A Fear Once Forgotten, Bridging States, Keeping Secrets

Going to XFest: Final Underground and Keeping Secrets

Going to the semifinals: Final Underground, Black Tooth Grin and Keeping Secrets

Once again, Andrea was at my side (she's a sweet girl and I'm a good tipper--we have a great relationship). Langley had a Good Charlotte kind of sound at times and good, clear vocals and melodies. Black Tooth Grin fans made up most of the night's listeners and they supported all of the other bands. They were rewarded at the end of the night with a dirt-rockin' set by their favorites.

Week Four--The Sound and The Fury, Wake Up Dead, Sorrows Eve, XhourglassXemptyX, Wakefield Station, 12th of Never and Sprockets

Going to XFest: Evologic

Going to the semifinals: Evologic and The Sound and The Fury

There was Andrea (waiting for me at the door this time). Muniz did his thing. I took my usual table and settled in for the festivities. The music was pretty much the same as the last three rounds. Even the most hardcore of hardcore fans would have a hard time telling all of these bands apart, but I kept an open mind.

Wake Up Dead had some technical difficulties--a broken guitar bridge and a pulled microphone chord. They stayed with it, though and did a fair job in spite of the problems. When Evologic took the stage, the crowd lost their collective mind. 12th of Never's funky beats were refreshing and a nice change of pace. I met and got to know Ted, The Core's house manager and Aaron Thatcher, The Core's owner. Both men were gracious and friendly and reinforced my decision to spend Saturdays at The Core.

Week Five--Halo Envy, My Sexy Assasin, From This Tourniquet, The October Tree, Cassidy, Knives Millions, The Living Souls

Going to XFest: Cassidy

Going to the semifinals from this round: Cassidy, Knives Millons and The Living Souls

Andrea was off for that night, but her replacement was very kind and attentive. I had my witches with me, I ran into some friends I hadn't seen in years (who are the parents of the girl who dates the screamer from Cassidy), met some of the members of Ripchain (nice guys), and I found out Anthony (the drummer from Cestus) plays drums for The October Tree and I had a chance to chat with (read: at) Muniz. The bands really brought their game and it was a good night of music. The Living Souls played some great music including a Stray Cats cover. The place was busy from early on and everyone seemed to enjoy the night, including me.

Week Six--Elias, South Pond, Zoo Melody, Vexengine, Soulfugid, Ripchain and OCD

Going to XFest: OCD

Going to the semifinals: OCD, Ripchain and South Pond

Andrea was back, Thatcher's excitement for the night was palpable, Ted was busy behind the bar (but never too busy to stop and ask me how I was) and the place was packed. The crowd was hyped and when OCD took the stage, I thought the place would explode from the sheer volume. Aaron ushered me back stage so that I could watch the crowd watch OCD. These fans put the fan in fanatic. As far as I could see were black OCD T-shirts on listeners young and old. They stood on crates, equipment and each other's shoulders and drank in OCD's music. When the band finished playing and the crowd finished chanting, "OCD! OCD!," Muniz took the stage with Big J, Thatcher and Ayn (lead singer for Paylface) to announce the winners. When the screaming died down, Thatcher took the microphone. "For fifteen years we've been doing this battle of the bands," he said looking out over the crowd. "And you guys and are exactly the reason why."

I guess I was wrong. Battle of the Bands didn't serve three purposes: it served four.

Saturday, September 17, XFest, 3-9 p.m., tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door, The Idaho Center.