Show Overview: Supernova Battle of the Bands

 Supernova Battle of the Bands 
DATE Saturday, November 12, 2011
COVER $10.00 advance, $15.00 door

Overview/Video by Dan Nightingale
Photos/Video by Tiffany Naugler

This Battle of the Bands at the Bustop Theatre kicked off with the Brother John Project, a simple blues band who had the unfortunate roll of sussing out the PA issues. After hearing the opening of their first song about 5 times, it started to get a little frustrating, at no fault of the bands. Once they kicked in to their set proper, slick slide guitar provided embellishment over what was otherwise pretty standard blues rock. Being the first band in the lineup amongst mostly metal and indie rock bands is pretty tough, and I think I saw most of the band departing pretty soon after their set.
The Hello John Project - Supernova - 02
The Hello John Project - Supernova - 04The Hello John Project - Supernova - 01

Next up was the very literally named Metalheart, who provided a complete contrast to the previous slow blues with their Satriani/Vai/Dragon Force inspired speed metal shredding. With dual virtuoso keyboard and guitar solos often harmonizing with incredible speed, the band definitely grabbed the crowd's attention. I'd have to say, though it's not a contest, this was probably the fastest guitar player I have ever seen in a local band; at times during the fast sweep picking his hands seemed liked a blur, or to the untrained eye just incredibly random flailing, but the notes being played proved he could pull it off. As somewhat expected, the vocals had no pitch range to speak of, but fulfilled their purpose of bridging the spaces between face melting solos.
Metalheart - Supernova - 05

Metalheart - Supernova - 04Metalheart - Supernova - 03
Metalheart - Supernova - 02Metalheart - Supernova - 01

The third band was... a no show. Instead we sat in silence (no PA music) for half an hour. Not the smoothest production ever, but to be fair the later bands had a solid expectation of their set time, so there was no point throwing them off.

The fourth band was My Friend Grim, a young metal/screamo/whatever they call it now band who showcased talent and intensity that rivaled most of the long time metal scene bands in Halifax. Their music was fast and aggressive, but with enough great chops and variety thrown in to impress an array of listeners. Thrash beats broke down into rock solos and then intense double bass drumming and grim screams and growls. The trading off clean and dirty vocals were a great touch, even if the clean vocals were a little flat. This is a band that, given the right opportunity's, should do pretty well for themselves in a town with a thriving metal scene like Halifax.
My Friend Grim - Supernova - 01
My Friend Grim - Supernova - 10My Friend Grim - Supernova - 08
My Friend Grim - Supernova - 09
My Friend Grim - Supernova - 05My Friend Grim - Supernova - 04
My Friend Grim - Supernova - 07My Friend Grim - Supernova - 11
My Friend Grim - Supernova - 03My Friend Grim - Supernova - 02

The next band, Clockwork, turned things around again, and lived up to their name - a lot of generic 90's rock riffs and cliché vocal delivery (“yeah oh la la la lala” - compelling stuff). The bad mix of too much bass and thin, digital sounding guitar didn't help matters, but at least the band had a sense of humor and great energy, and connected with the crowd.
Clockwork - Supernova - 02Clockwork - Supernova - 01

After that was Dali Van Gogh, an alternative/metal band ala Alice in Chains/Soundgarden. Again the vocals were a little off putting, though mostly in lyrical content and not delivery, which was simple but effective and polished. Apparently the key to winning this contest was to guitar solo your way to victory, but it was hard to top the well over the top shredding of Metalheart, or the pure angry intensity of My Friend Grim.
Dali Van Gogh - Supernova - 02
Dali Van Gogh - Supernova - 04Dali Van Gogh - Supernova - 01

Next up, indie rock returned to the stage with Red House (not sure why they didn't bother to check if their band name was free). Again they were tight, if a little subdued compared to some of the previous entries. A lot of songs built up as if they were going somewhere interesting, only to return to the same mid-tempo, fairly unenergetic strumming and 4/4 rock beats. Things did turn around a little on the last song, with a more up beat driving bass line and some nice guitar riffage.
Red House - Supernova - 06
Red House - Supernova - 01Red House - Supernova - 04
Red House - Supernova - 02

Little King Hunter rallied on to the stage next (pro tip: you don't have to wear ear plugs for setting up guitars). In the context of the evening, their music was nothing too far off the norm, but they were probably one of the tightest sounding bands of the night, finally managing to showcase a seamless, two vocal lineup that didn't clash or involve awkward trade offs.
Little King Hunter - Supernova - 02
Little King Hunter - Supernova - 03Little King Hunter - Supernova - 01
Little King Hunter - Supernova - 06
Little King Hunter - Supernova - 05Little King Hunter - Supernova - 04

After that, Cicada tied it up as the rightest and most brutally knit metal band, with blood curdling screams and relentless drumming (all though I'm really quite sure that no drummer ever needs NINE cymbals). These guys take extreme metal to it's logical, post-ironic conclusion – all 8 string guitars and non stop full on screaming, and continual scale riffary with no tonal centre or melody. Of course, Cicada is by no means the only band to take this path, but (and this is a criticism of the whole conceit, not the band) when every second of every song is 100% balls to the wall intensity, it becomes akin to white noise – everything all the time, with no stops, breakdowns, or contrast – which actually makes the music less intense, like listening to the same constant noise all day which the brain eventually tunes out.
Cicada - Supernova - 11
Cicada - Supernova - 10Cicada - Supernova - 09
Cicada - Supernova - 08
Cicada - Supernova - 07Cicada - Supernova - 05
Cicada - Supernova - 06
Cicada - Supernova - 04Cicada - Supernova - 01
Cicada - Supernova - 03Cicada - Supernova - 02

Regardless of the physiology of metal, they put on a great show and probably picked up some younger fans from the all ages crowd, which is always a plus. The crowd was now dwindling but most stuck around to see the final band.

The Band Before Time (not sure where they came up with that pun-tastic name), though their songs were a little, let's say, gentle, in comparison to the rest of the evening, they were compelling and tight, and I could picture these guys doing well with the CBC 3 crowd – they had that Canadian slightly country tinged indie rock sound, and I would have to say, probably the best vocal harmonies of the night. Great dynamics made them a stand out among the rock bands, but if I was a judge, I would have had to give them a big fat 0 in the stage banter category. Yikes.
The Band Before Time - Supernova - 01
The Band Before Time - Supernova - 04The Band Before Time  - Supernova - 03
The Band Before Time  - Supernova - 02

All in all all the bands put on great efforts, and while I had a few bands in mind that I'd judge as winners, it's not up to me – apparently, it's up to you, if the official website is accurate, you can vote for the winners for the next 3 days, so take a look:


No comments: