Posted by Aaron Wynne on 11/17 at 05:28 PM
Five bands took the stage Monday night at the Mezzanine as part of the Public Relations Student Society for America’s (PRSSA) Battle of the Bands competition. The event was well organized and orchestrated to benefit Toys For Tots. Here’s my ranking of the bands from “room for improvement” to the “top contenders.”
Room for Improvement:
The solo project by Tyler Troutman from Ashland, Pa. was the first to step up to the plate and finished last on my rankings. While I have respect for anyone who goes in front of a live crowd with just himself and a guitar, it doesn’t always make for the best music. He did possess a unique singing voice, but his slight rasp mixed with deep vocals produced somewhat of a depressing overtone that bogged down his guitar. Meanwhile the guitar only seemed to feature constant chord strumming with the exception of his final song where he incorporated at least one verse with a lick as opposed to chords. One positive is that he displayed a sense of humor in between songs.
Hope Fallacy was the final band to wrap up the evening. To me, they did little to set themselves apart from anyone else. The only thing that perked my curiosity was the fact that they had three guitarists. However, this quickly became a moot point after they began to play. Bland musicality with prototypical “boy band” lyrics is an increasingly monotonous band theme that needs to stop. Featuring covers of songs such as “Tick Tock” and “Cute Without the e” the band did nothing for me except make me want to leave.
5 Cherry Lewis
The only thing for me that edged 5 Cherry Lewis, here in to the third spot, over Hope Fallacy is that there were at least occasional bursts of guitar talent. Another growing trend here (that needs to find a hole to crawl in and die) is the covering of hip-hop songs. Songs like “Dynamite” have their place in clubs, radio stations, and parties - but not in a cover band environment. The band performed other popular billboard hits including “Billionaire” and “Heartless.” These guys did do well to encourage crowd involvement, but it seemed that as their songs went on, the energy tapered off.
Now, before I go on to my top two, let me say that both these bands really stole the show and kicked some ass out on the arena. Their performances were closely matched, but here’s how they finished out for me.
Finishing in a close second, Atlas Soundtrack really brought a breadth of talent, refreshing originality, and an enjoyable atmosphere. The band was able to integrate groovy vibrations with a guitar that featured some excellent shredding mixed with impressive effects such as a nice delay. The bass created a driving foundation for most of their music along with the drums, and a cool use of bongos. “The Devil’s Coming” really got the crowd amped up and reminded me of Rage Against the Machine with the punchy rhythms and creative guitar. This group was definitely a joy to watch.
My evening’s crown goes to Memphis Hat. These guys rocked the stage with their instruments and their attitude. Going up second after Condition Oakland it seemed like the crowd wasn’t ready to be warmed up. But Memphis Hat swiftly torched them and brought the Mezzanine to life. With clear passion for their trade, the gang invigorated the stage. The solos were artfully administered with pervasive talent. The lead vocalist hummed with a classic rock style voice laced with a slight blues growl. In addition he turned a new page in the book of rhythm guitar by breaking away from tradition and adding flavorful licks to the tunes when appropriate. The bass was able to deliver a funky presence while the drums pleasantly kept the compositions tight. All of this came with a saxophone layering some zest on top. They played a number of their own creative hits and mixed in two covers including one of “Johnny B Good.” The mix of musical ingenuity with an energized crowd earned them the act of the night.
Overall the night was a real success. Although it was only two bands that stood apart from the rest, it was a great way to spend a Monday night and raise money for a good cause.
Author: Aaron Wynne
Bio: Aaron is a senior at The Pennsylvania State University and is originally from Wells, Maine. He is studying public relations and psychology. His hobbies include playing music, particularly bass, playing and watching sports, and watching movies, his current favorite being Inception. His music tastes are wide spread but his favorites include progressive metal, experimental rock, instrumental rock, and alternative. His favorite bands currently consist of Between the Buried and Me, Animals as Leaders, Red Sparowes, and Dysrhythmia.
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