With St. Patrick’s Day being last Thursday, I’m sure that many of you don’t remember what you were up to between 8 and 11 p.m. But not all of us were either blackout drunk or paying a visit to the great white telephone. While most of the Concordia population spent the evening crammed into Crescent St.’s many dingy Irish pubs, about 20 spectators gathered in the F.C. Smith Auditorium on Loyola campus for CJLO’s second annual Battle of the Bands.
Out of the 10Â or so bands that applied to take part in the competition, six were chosen – gladly trading in a day-long drinking binge for the chance to win a $300 gift card for Ital Melodie, a guest appearance on one of CJLO’s shows, a feature article on the station’s website and a two-day recording session in their studio.
Five judges – Angelica Calcagnile, host of BVST on CJLO, Omar Husain, CJLO Head Music Director and host of Hooked on Sonics, Darcy MacDonald, columnist for the Montreal Mirror, Francis Letendre, Director of production and Marketing Coordinator at Last Gang Records, and myself – hashed it out American Idol-style between performances. However, rest assured that, unlike in the TV show, no feelings were hurt (too severely). While all of the bands were unknown and quite amateurish, there was no denying that there was talent present in the room.
First up was a four-piece called the Ben Cardilli Band. The group’s founder, Ben Cardilli, had a strong pair of vocal chords and the guitar soloing skills to match. Perhaps more so than the group who managed to win the top prize, every member of the band was musically talented.
Rapper RÃ©al gave his first-ever on-stage performance, which proved to be highly energetic and confident in spite of his trying – and failing – to engage the crowd by prompting, “Put ya hands in the sky!” Following was a poetic, thoughtful yet forgettable solo acoustic performance by the Audio Drop-In before an almost hour-long intermission that split the night into two segments.
After people chugged a bunch of $1.50 beers and were summoned back into the venue, the battle resumed with an eccentric, punk-noise-rock freak show by the Porn Persons. Judges seemed to be torn between confusion and endearment, yet the audience had made their mind up as to who would take the cake. Apparently, a band need only dress up in oddly-matched thrift store clothing and shiny costumes to win a musical talent competition. While Porn Persons had the performance aspect of their set down pat, the band could really benefit from diverting some of that energy spent on their costumes to improving the quality of their music.
Jake Goldsbie, another solo acoustic artist, played an emotionally-charged set, with his first song tackling such heavy subject matter as child abuse and incest. Finally, the powerful vocals from eclectic group Fire At Rivky wrapped up what proved to be a surprisingly decent and delightfully entertaining evening.
Keep your radios tuned into CJLO for Porn Persons, who will be appearing on-air in the near future.