Friday in the UMC’s Glenn Miller Ballroom, the Boulder-based progressive folk-indie group Cascade Kinzie earned their place on the Battle of the Bands championship plaque, joining the ranks of previous winners such as Air Dubai, the West Water Outlaws and The Sandbox Band. Despite being added on at last minute, Cascade Kinzie beat out eight other bands and won the grand prize of five hours of recording time in Coupe’s Studio A and four hours of professional sound mixing with one of Coupe’s award-winning sound engineers.
The bands were judged on four categories of criteria: musicianship, originality, stage presence and audience response, with a possible ten points for every category. Three judges scored the bands in all the categories, except audience response. The audience was the judge for the fourth category by a decibel reader that measured how much noise the audience made when they cheered for each band. Each band had 15 minutes to rock the stage for their chance to win the eternal fame that comes with the title of champion.
Brent Crane & A Band perform Saturday night at CU’s Battle of the Bands in the UMC. The alternative folk group consisted of three members and was from Boulder. (CU Independent/Gary Sheer)
The show kicked off with Brandon Calano, an acoustic singer-songwriter from Boulder. He played a set with three friends, one on vocals, one on bass and one on the drums. Although Brandon Calano had good stage presence, his songs were somewhat generic sounding like a collaboration between Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz. Calano was extremely excited to be up on stage, and his wild dancing and stomping about the stage made it evident that he didn’t care if he won or lost, he was just happy to be performing.
The next band to grace the stage was Slanted Jack, a four piece progressive rock band that incorporated funk into most of their songs. The independent Boulder group had solid, well-composed songs, but overall their sound was unoriginal and generic. Their set was met with less applause than Brandon Calano, as their stage presence lacked as much strength.
Following Slanted Jack was Brent Crane & A Band, a trio consisting of two guitarists and a bongo drummer. The alternative folk group originating from Boulder had a very chilled out and unique sound compared to the two previous groups. Brent Crane and his fellow guitarist were very skilled musicians, and every song they played had intricate, well-composed riffs, coupled with the distinct singing voices of the members. They were well received by the audience, who were all very entertained by the mellow folk sounds.
Petey Purcell was up next. The solo artist brought a fresh indie-pop sound to the show. Petey Purcell had a non-traditional approach to his music, as his songs were pre-composed on his laptop and he would rap and play guitar over the beat. Purcell had the most upbeat and catchy pop-sounding songs of the night, but unfortunately was met with less applause as the audience had dissipated between acts.
The next band was The 100 Percent, another Boulder group. The three members wore very dapper attire, and would have been the champions if the judges graded on fashion. Unfortunately though, their sound didn’t live up to their snappy attire. The 100 Percent played generic alternative rock that sounded like it was straight from the 90’s. Their stage presence was stronger that that of Petey Purcell, but they weren’t nearly as original.
Saturday in the UMC the group 100 percent performed in CU’s Battle of the Bands. (CU Independent/Gary Sheer)
After The 100 Percent, it was time for Denver’s Drop Switch, one of the bigger groups of that night in terms of both fame and group size. The group consisted of seven members, including a gorgeous female vocalist, a saxophonist and a rapper. Their stage presence was undeniably one of the strongest of that night, and coupled with an eclectic soul, rap, rock and jazz sound, they earned some of the loudest cheers of the night. Drop Switch ended up winning the second place prize that night, which was five hours of recording and/or mixing time in Coupe’s Studio A.
Following Drop Switch was the six piece group Barren Waves, a Celtic punk-rock band from Boulder. The band included a violinist, guitarist, bassist, accordionist, mandolin player and drummer. Their folk/punk sound was fast, high-energy, and hard not to dance along to, and the punk-infused traditional Irish sound was enhanced with a kazoo solo in the middle of one of their songs. By the end of their set, Barren Waves had the audience singing and clapping along with them. Unfortunately, they didn’t place in the contest, which was a shame considering that they had the highest energy and greatest originality of that night.
The next band up was Cold River City, a six piece Boulder funky ska band with a female lead singer with great vocals. The group sounded like Slightly Stoopid, with a Boulder twist. Cold River City won the third place prize that night, which was two hours of recording or mixing time in Coupe’s Studio A.
Finally, the stage was graced by Cascade Kinzie, a folk quartet that sounded like Mumford & Sons and the Fleet Foxes. The four piece band consisted of a guitarist, mandolin player, banjoist and a young woman playing the washboard. The group from Durango had a driving, bluegrass-like folk sound that borrowed influences from all kinds of music. The diversity within Cascade Kinzie’s short set was enough to make them the fourth band to win CU’s Battle of the Bands. Added on at the last minute, Cascade Kinzie secured their place in history on the Battle of the Bands winners plaque.
To find out about more shows, check out Program Council on Facebook.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Lucas Fox at Lucas.Fox@Colorado.edu.
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