Filled with flying hair, bucket-drumming bands, bouncing groupies, lots of energy and music for all tastes, the first annual Battle of the Bands, organized by Hurricane Productions [HP] and QuantUM, had a rocky start.
Conceived out of two separate events, then somewhat haphazardly put together two weeks before the actual date, the show left many dissatisfied with the way it was organized.
Originally, HP had planned a show for Saturday, the 23rd. QuantUM had another scheduled for Thursday, the 21st. When they found out about each other’s events, they decided to unite and co-sponsor one single event.
“We had to compromise,” said Zach Lezberg, QuantUM’s president. “We didn’t want to have an event for four hours-people would get bored.”
Since HP was planning for three professional bands, they allotted 45 minutes per band. QuantUM’s event was planned for eight to ten amateur bands playing for fifteen minutes each.
By combining the shows, HP had to reduce their bands’ playing time to half an hour per act, which caused one of their entries to drop out of the running.
None of the participating bands were informed of this arrangement, a fact that angered most of the amateur acts-No Such Road, Rizzo, Sondazed, and Crashing Tide. The two professional acts were Active Ingredients and Morisson Poe.
“In the spirit of fair competition, it does not logically follow that the ‘professional’ bands selected by Hurricane Productions would be favored in the length of sets over those selected by Quantum,” said Eric Valdes, Crashing Tide’s guitarist. “I feel deceived. Had we at least been told it was going to be unfair, we could have dealt with it better.”
“We didn’t want to affect any of the bands’ performances, that’s why we didn’t tell them,” Lezberg said.
“If we were to start over, things would be different,” said Ben Werlin, Friday Groove chair of HP and one of the event’s organizers. “Everyone would get the same playing time, and things would go a lot smoother.”
Despite these challenges, organizers say the event had a high turnout, between 500 to 700 show throughout the night.
Of course, not all the attendees were satisfied.
“It wasn’t very entertaining,” said Eric Hochstadt, junior. “Some of the bands weren’t very talented.”
Prizes were awarded as follows: Active Ingredients took home first place and $1000, Morisson Poe got second place and $300, and Crashing Tide won third place and $200.
“I thought the results were right,” Hochstadt said. “At least the judges got it right.”
“We came in second to a really good band, so we’re happy,” said Jean Morisson, lead vocalist for Morisson Poe. “It was more important for us to play for everyone than to win first prize.”
“We don’t consider it losing, we consider it being inspired,” added D. S. Poe, bassist.
“I feel pretty good. I’m less broke now,” said Tony Castro, Crashing Tide’s lead vocalist.
Celebrity judges included Brian Capelli from ‘Cane Records, Cujo from 94.9 Zeta, Delaine Matthieu from Channel 7 News and Ethan Schwartz from South Florida Jamz. Bands were judged on originality, musicianship and audience reaction.
“We told the judges not to judge on time, but on quality,” Lezberg said.
All the bands save Morisson Poe played completely original sets-of their six-song set, three were covers.
“I think it’s a load of crap,” Hochstadt said. “I don’t think bands should be playing covers at Battle of the Bands.”
In between acts, the emcees gave announcements and plugged various organizations and events. More often than not, their appearance was followed by a sudden hush from the audience. Time between bands was also filled with karaoke and “guess that song” contests-though the emcee had to offer the audience cash incentives of Monopoly money in order to get anyone to volunteer.
The only two karaoke acts sang “Bye bye bye” by N*Sync and “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt. The “guess that tune” contest went on for a full five minutes-five minutes filled with complete silence in the audience.
Of the 25 bands that auditioned, six made the final cut. Decisions were made by a committee, and were based from live performances and demo tapes.