This round of the Rock Challenge was pretty evenly matched, which unfortunately meant no one really knocked me out tonight.
This is not to say the bands were bad-- just the opposite. They were all pretty solid, with talented players, but none of them grabbed me by the balls.
The opening slot is always tough. As a Judge, I like to leave some wiggle room when scoring the first band, so I tend to be moderate in my scoring. Tonight proved to be a moderate score that won on my ballot, but it was close.
Knuckleduster came out strong, which I always look for in any competition. Hit 'em hard and hold the crowd for the knockout punch. Although the knockout punch never really happened, they did manage to keep the energy high enough to leave a good impression. The vocals were solid and the talent is definitely there, but it felt like they needed more time together as a unit, which is a compliment. Stick at it guys. there's something there.
Grandad's Child was captivating at first, but by the third song, I felt I had heard this before. Their bluesy rock style was enjoyable but somewhat predictable and ultimately came up short . I was looking for a build up to a big finish, but it just never happened. That said, the rhythm section could have challenged me more, but they were competent, and I give major props on the guitar work.
Atomic Shindig was the most eclectic of the bands tonight, but it felt like they weren't hitting all 8 cylinders. Kinda bluesy, kinda poppy, kinda rocky-- they were hard to label, which can be a plus, but I kept expecting an explosion, and  it just never happened. Solid vocals, strong musicianship and a couple of songs that have some real potential make them a band to watch, but tonight they just didn't leave it all on the stage. Note: If you're going to have hot chicks dancing as a part of your show--and not singing backups-- they need to have a coordinated routine. Eye candy is fine, but presentation and staging also count.
Conflict Cycle had an uphill battle from the word go. Heavy Metal has become so fragmented into sub-genres, it's difficult to classify. They had the energy for sure, but nothing about them really stood out. They sounded like pretty much any other band in the Gorgar vocals, double bass driven world of Metal these days. To their credit, they had the most energized crowd of the night, but they came up short on my ballot.

Being a "Judge" in a band competition is something I take seriously. These bands have all worked hard to get here and deserve respect. That respect, in my mind, means an honest critique. Not a criticism, a critique. Big difference.

The Final Round is the most glamorous, but I prefer the trenches of the initial rounds. I get to see all the bands. I already know who I would pick in the finals, so barring some bizarre turn of events, it's pointless for me to Judge the Finals. My bonus is seeing all these bands who I may not otherwise see individually.

My thanks to Hard Rock Cafe and 105.9 The X for their hospitality


Category: Soundcheck