After a weekend of fierce auditions, the St. Albert Battle of the Bands competition will end in an atomic grand finale this coming Friday night.
A special project for St. Albert’s 150th anniversary, the explosive band competition is a two-hour event starting at 8 p.m. that will usher in the Canada Day fireworks.
Bass guitarist Rodney Dennis, 16, who competes in the battle with his four-man band Careless Politicians, said the competition is a special opportunity to play for the hometown crowd.
“I’m excited. I think we’ll do a good show. I’m looking forward to it. I love performing and this is a great chance to show off our music.”
Careless Politicians will go head-to-head with The Vista Waves, GURL, City Tropics and Showbiz. The winner receives a $500 recording package from Innovations Music and the opportunity to play at the city’s Rendezvous Picnic on Sunday, Aug. 28.
Natalie Dabbagh, 19, a 2009 Paul Kane graduate and event organizer, is the competition’s biggest booster. Describing the bands’ overall quality, she says, “They have talents I’ve never seen before. They play well, they’re tight and I can see any one of them making a record. I would put their music on my iPod, no question.”
Each band displays a signature sound. For instance Vista Waves, a four-piece indie-rock progressive band, is slightly older. “You can tell they work hard and enjoy playing. I found that at the auditions I loved their originals more than the covers.”
Careless Politicians instead is part of the Paul Kane rock and pop program with Dennis, Jeremy Monai, Christian Johnson and Jamie Malbeuf.
“We’re modern rock, but every now and again we veer off into other styles of rock to make it interesting, maybe pop or punk,” Dennis says.
This is one band that likes to have fun together and they’re not above poking fun at serious endeavours such as their satire song Nuke the Whales. “It makes fun of people who take themselves seriously but don’t really care.”
Another band developed through the PK rock and pop program is City Tropics. “We try and sound like The Strokes — lots of guitar dynamics. We’re not about to sell out. We want to make music we enjoy,” says Jake Salpeter, 16, lead singer.
Together with Liam Holm, Ryan Oliver, Jack Hansen and Kyle Flahr, this band has already won the Camrose Battle of the Bands. “We’re not going to get too confident, but we feel good about it. We’re mainly just excited about playing for our friends.”
One band to watch is the four-man boy band GURL says Dabbagh. “They blow you away with their confidence. They’ve got the “it” factor. They just walked into the audition with a whole lot of confidence.”
And finally Showbiz, an Edmonton threesome, has developed a rock stamp ranging from folk groove to metal with a Led Zeppelin influence. “We typically play our own music and fill with Strokes covers or rock and roll,” says lead vocalist Peter Clark.
Their original song choices range from girls and political messages to the death of rock and roll. “We’re new and ambitious. We’re young and vibrant and we’re just finding our groove.”
While judges deliberate to choose a winner, St. Albert band The Jams will perform for a half hour.
For Dabbagh this event is a great opportunity to introduce young local talent. “These bands need to be heard and I’m looking to make it an annual thing. This would be a good start. Bands need to be supported and it’s also an awesome way to enjoy Canada Day.”
Battle of the Bands
Friday, July 1 from 8 to 10 p.m.
St. Albert Place Plaza