Lame battle of the bands (semi-rant)

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by JoeRules00, Mar 30, 2003.

  1. As I mentioned in my gigspam thread, my band played our 'big' show for awhile Friday evening, the local Battle of The Bands. What an evening. :rolleyes:

    The day's festivities started off with me, my guitarist, my buddy, and some RANDOM guy (I couldn't mean this more, he asked if I was in Battle of the Bands and followed me for the rest of the day) took off last class to go start setting up for the show. Now, we asked the promoter of the show over and over to make sure this would be cool, and it started off fine. We got in no problem, and cleared our spot off. Time to start bringing the gear in. No sooner than we step off stage (it was in an auditorium) does the step team take over the stage, meaning we're left to stand and wait backstage. The promoter swears she didn't know this was happening, but seemed really apathetic that we made a big deal of coming down early to set up and it was now pointless.

    4:00 hits and the team leaves, but our early arrival is for nothing, because school is out and another band has showed up, the rest to be filing in in the next 20 minutes. We're still cool, we'll be the first to set up and we can still get some extra sound checking in.


    The stage is without electric sockets, something we've known, but we were told up and down that power would be available from the second we stepped on stage. Except that her meaning of power was a bucket of surge protectors (with 3 feet cords) that she left at home. Guitarist runs to my house, gets my 3-pronged extensions and we're good (like I wasn't coming to a gig without surge protectors of my own).

    Alright, time to jam, we've got power, and we can start checking how this auditorium will sound for us.

    Again, nope.

    The "featured artist", an 8 year old rapper by the name of Lil' Za arrives and he needs his 2 HOUR soundcheck. We're not allowed to play till he's finished running through his set twice, and then runs a check of his entrance, him riding out on a 4 wheeler with a path going RIGHT THROUGH OUR GEAR. This doesn't fly, and we put our foot down, you'll find somewhere else to go, because if you ride through our equipment, that 4 wheeler is getting shoved straight up where the sun don't shine. (As you can tell, I'm very stressed at this moment)

    He finally finishes and all 5 bands get their soundchecks in. Things are sounding just fine. The auditorium has awful sound in the far back, and we're having to angle our amps to play for judges because they're to stage left, and we're set up on stage right, so those in the crowd right in front of us are getting a hit in sound, but there's not much we can do.

    Now it's just time to wait till we go on. And wait, and wait, because the area's local R&B radio station host (the same one who interviewed us Thursday evening), who was said to be getting in at 6, still isnt here at 7:30 (the show was supposed to start at 7:00) and we OBVIOUSLY can't start the show until he gets here. Me and the guys leave to go have a smoke and come back. We get back, and the show is starting off. Singers ("at Battle of The Bands?" you say? You'll see just how much of a battle of the bands this is in a moment) start, so it's not long now.

    We're the first band to go on, and after announcing the band portion is starting, I run out to do a final check on the instruments and vocals. (yes, I'm the roadie. :) ) The crowd goes CRAZY when I step out to do this. I'm laughing, because I'm getting this huge pop. The crowd is crazy the whole time I'm tuning, it's amazing. The other guys come out, we look at each other, and start it off.

    We led off with The Toadies' Tyler, which the crowd could hardly get enough of. My singer shocked me as I looked over at him during the drum solo and he's got the crowd enthralled, clapping and watching him hard. The song goes off without a hitch, and the pop afterwards is amazing. My nerves start to kick in because the next song is "Still" by Rufio, and the intro has given me trouble lately, but there I went, playing it perfect. The crowd loves the upbeat punk by us, and if it wasn't for the school's police officer saying that any mosh pit would be recieving lots and lots of pepper spray (diggin' our battle of the bands yet?), there would have been a massive one right in front of us. I even pulled a little rock star out of myself by tossing my pick out into the crowd (which I got a pop for, unbelievably enough).

    Time to close out, with Letters to You, by Finch. The song is in drop D, and as to not have the crowd hear us drop, the singer hands his guitar off to me to tune, and he'll talk to the crowd for a second. Things look fine, I start to drop him from E to D and kaput. His guitar dies. We can't figure it out. We're cool, we can do the last song with just one guitar, so we do, but it takes us a minute or so to get the guitar off and get him unplugged from the PA. We're cool though, because the guitarist got the black portion of the crowd goin' with a nice little rendition of Eminem's Lose Yourself. We're all set, and kick off Finch.

    The crowd is seriously drowning us out, I could hardly hear the drums (which is quite an accomplishment with our drummer). We play to the crowd hard during this one, with me going across stage to play for the other side of the auditorium at one part in the song. And as the last chorus kicks off, I jump off stage and get in with the fans in the front. The feeling was so great. The song ends and the lights cut, an awesome awesome moment. Before they come back on, I set my bass down onstage and toss out picks and 2 For $1.00 stickers to the crowd. I head backstage with the greatest feeling ever.

    We sit backstage in awe of ourselves. We're usually pretty good, but we turned it ON onstage. The rest of the bands go on, doing fine really, but the crowd feels underwhelmed because the rest of the bands don't say a word between songs and simply stand there and play. I'm feelin' really good about our chances to win at this point.

    The bands we're competing with are The Lash-Outs (a fast-paced punk band much like ourselves), Sinthetik (a metal band thats just too boring), Rugged Cross (a christian rock band with an overbearing singer [no one else but him and the drummer could be heard] and a drummer who sticks out like a sore thumb), and Intrinsic Dawn, last year's winners. Last year they put on an exciting show, but this year it was toned down hard. Imagine something along the lines of Coldplay or Radiohead, but with a HEAVY HEAVY Christian influence. Mind you, not bad at all, just, as much as I hate to say it, boring.

    After the last band, Lil' Za comes out for an encore, which during the last song of, the house P.A. overloads. They have to start everything back up, but get this, our man, Lil' Za is playing off a burned CD. Even better, it's got 2 tracks. One for the first set, and one for the second, so he has to start all over. The crowd sits through it anxiously waiting the results.

    Time has come. The crowd has it in their heads that we've dethroned Intrinsic Dawn, but their performance has earned them 2nd.

    2nd place is announced, and its.....Rugged Cross? Everyone turns around and looks at their neighbor. Something is amiss. Boos are audible, but its more out of confusion than anything else. Drumroll comes for the 1st place result, and the promoter, who is announcing it all, finds me out in the crowd and stares me down hard while announcing that Intrinsic Dawn has won. Not out of mind games for the crowd, trying to pull a swerve, out of something else. We've been so big in the whole process, going to every meeting, paying the entry fee on time, going to plug the show on the radio station, put up fliers, etc, and she stared us down coldly as she announced that we didn't win.

    Something is definitely wrong with the system when Intrinsic Dawn played a fine show and as they go to get the prize they get booed off the stage.

    Here's the kicker though, this is the 2nd year in a row that the popular choice didn't win. But last year, the popular favorite at least got 2nd, and they didn't have the crowd nearly as much as we did. Besides that, it was more understandable because they were a metal band, and you know metal bands and High School Battle of The Bands dont mix.

    However, I'm convinced the night was still our night. No, we didn't leave with the $250 in gift certificates that we definitely could use, but we did leave with the crowd. Every person in the crowd, even some guys who hate me and I hate back, said afterwards that we got shafted.

    Oh yeah, and I did forget to mention. I went to call my girlfriend who couldn't come unfortunately, and I was out back with one of the guys who had came to hear Lil' Za. He recognized me and introduced himself. It turns out, he's a representative for Def Jam South, and they're starting a new label of all rock bands. He says we carried ourselves really well on stage, better than some who get lots of airplay, and that he's really intrigued by us. We set up a timeframe on putting some original songs together (we've got handfuls, but they're rough and need refining), getting the footage from that night edited, takin' some pictures (this time around, not in my grandparents house), and putting together bios. He wants us to put it together and then put us in a showcase in June or July, and with any luck, sign us.

    *sigh* Wow, that's the longest thing I've ever written. Got any comments? :)
  2. Amethska


    Jan 27, 2003
    NJ, USA
    Wow. Sure, you got screwed over, but isn't it the crowd that you really want? That's awesome, sounds like you've got something really going for you with that record guy, too. Sounds like you guys "won" above anyone. :)
  3. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    What are these "pops" you keep referring to?
  4. Crowd reaction. I figured I'd lose someone on that, its what I get from using my old wrestling terminology over here on TalkBass. A pop is like a crowd reaction to one specific thing, I'd say.

    We thought we were takin' a break after battle of the bands. We've been writing songs nightly and playing em daily. :)
  5. That's exactly why battle of the bands competitions suck, you can come away from your set totally stoked and then find out you don't win and it tears you down, this is the problem with music as a competition. Even though you obviously came out the winner in every other aspect.
  6. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    I agree. The whole idea of musical competition is stupid IMO. Playing a battle of the bands can still be fun though. You just have to go into it not caring about the results.
  7. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    I'm willing to bet that every battle of the bands since the beginning of time has:

    - Been an atrocity.
    - Been unfair to many if not all of the participants.
    - Been no real measure of who the best band was.
    - afforded no real means for the participants to sound their best.

    Stay away from them. They're juvenile and ill-conceived. Also, see other threads on "playing for the door". If you didn't know to avoid battles-of-the-bands, you need to learn to avoid the "playing for the door" lesson as well.
  8. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    These all cover bands or what? If not, your decision to play covers may hurt you.
  9. 3 of the bands were cover bands. We're at the end of our covers stage, by which I mean we've got some originals, but we chose the covers over them simply because it was a battle of the bands. Besides that, the judges were unaware that our songs were covers until after voting.
  10. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    true dat

    I've been trying to figure out why what seems like the worst band always wins. I guess it's because the judges are usually people who aren't the most musically inclined, and so they vote for whatever sounds the most familiar to them.
  11. My band just finished competing in our high school's battle of bands for the second time. It sucked, ... but not as bad as the last one.

    Our singer was totally off pitch.

    aside from one technical difficulty, the music we played was near the best we've ever done....

    but ordinary non-musicians seem not to care about anything besides singing most of the time.

    the judges didn't seem fans of anything heavier than dave matthews band stuff...

    the judjing at these things ALWAYS sucks. what matters is if you think you did good.
  12. fourstr00


    Mar 21, 2002
    Chicago Area
    You know, all the stuff people say about BOTB really is true. Even when you win, as my band has in the past, you somehow feel as though not all is right with the world.

    Worst part of all of it is trying to make peace with the other bands, especially when you both "know" who should have taken the big prize. You need self confidence and all, but another band may just have fit the venue better.

    I remember when Fixate played A BOTB at NIU last year. We won, but I'm not sure how. Another local band that I have a lot of respect for, Bicycle Day, didn't even place, which makes for uncomfortable conversation.

    It's fickle stuff, too. We weren't even asked back this year.