Bandamonium in full swing with medium-rock competition
The final round will be Feb. 26 at The Blue Note.
Sound checks, light checks, ID checks: the typical through-and-through for a place like Mojo's, which, on Monday night — and many Monday nights following — is hosting the fifth consecutive Bandamonium in downtown Columbia.
This battle of the bands is an opportunity for self-producing groups to jump at the chance to cultivate fan bases and garner a respectable name for themselves.
And, of course, win the $2,000 grand prize.
“It’s always different, and always exciting," said Jacqueline Chenault, staff member at 100.1-FM The Buzz and coordinator for Bandamonium. "We never know what to expect."
Bands, local and statewide, submitted demos — 53 in all, Chenault said — to fill a set list of 20 who were selected to compete.
For tonight, and the next three Monday nights, bands will play for audiences who drop ballots into boxes for the acts they like best—or, in some cases, know personally.
Judges also scatter the audience. Their votes are taken into account as well, all to decide which elite will make it to the final venue at The Blue Note at the end of February.
The schedule is divided by genre: two nights for medium-rock bands, one night for metal and one for light-rock.
Monday's crowd was pretty small, almost certainly thinned out by the fast approaching snowfall — a bit of bad news for the three vote-dependent bands that braved the ice and sleet to perform.
But the weather didn't deflate the optimism of Brent Moore, singer and lead guitarist for The Many Colored Death, the first set to go on at Bandamonium.
“We’re feeling good tonight," Moore said. "‘Cause tonight’s a Monday night. And Monday nights are made for rockin’.”
They’re a group, like many at Bandamonium, still in its early stages, having only released one five-track EP since its start in May.
"If we don’t make Bandamonium, then, well, you’re all fired," Moore said to his bandmates, jokingly.
Moore also explained the band's spot on the medium-rock portion of the event.
“We all come from different musical walks," he said. "We’re not metal, we’re not indie, we just play music. We’re an honest rock band.”
To varying degrees, that description rang true in the performances of all three groups. The bands at Bandamonium are less deliberately eclectic, reminiscent of an era when rock wasn’t yet saturated with the “independent” shtick that has become a staple in today’s scene.
It was a nice change for some, but a difficult sell to others, in a market full of — as drummer Shea Spence so diplomatically put — “hipsters out the wazoo.”
Following The Many Colored Death, was Soundtrack, a more stylized, celestial-rock band of five and Almost Taken, a younger group of four who leaned slightly to the punk side of the rock spectrum.
Regardless of who won the evening, the night was full of medium-rock that was far from mediocre.