Celebrating its 11th anniversary, the OC Music Awards kicks off on January 3rd with seven weeks of free showcases at different venues across the county. 35 local artists will compete for the titles of Best Live Band or Best Live Acoustic and a performance slot at the 2012 OC Music Awards, March 3 at the Grove of Anaheim. And, the voting is open now!
Waking up in the afterglow of a wild night with bruises is usually a sign that something fantastically physical happened just hours before, so when I woke this morning stiff and covered in black and blue, there was definitely bodily evidence that Night Five of the OC Music Awards Showcase Series at the Tiki Bar in Costa Mesa was pretty rocking.
Red9, Slime Kings, Snakebit Drifters, Death Hymn Number 9, and Railroad to Alaska all played amazing shoes. The bands seemed carefully curated last night, flowing deftly from one kind of high-energy or hard sound to another, every band seeping through a diverse prism of sound and meeting at one sonic point.
Although the audience was sparse when Red9 played, the band played well, almost too well, like old professionals who were using the stage at Tiki Bar as an interactive practice space.
One word that was used to describe Red9 over and over all night: Hardcore. Not hard in the sense that they were screaming, acting crazy, or tearing shit up, but just a consistent, impenetrable wall of sound.
Heavy[lastfm link_type="artist_info"] Alice in Chains[/lastfm]-style riffing, bone-crushing [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Tool[/lastfm]-esque rhythms, andthe kind of visceral art-rock one comes to expect from some of the greatest alternative rock bands.
To be totally honest, Slime Kings were a surprise and I expressed that sentiment to the band themselves. Not because I thought they would be awful, but because gauging from the music available online and their descriptions of the varied influences, it was hard to guess what Slime Kings would sound like live.
Slime Kings are, in fact, “not a typical ska band,” but they’re also not a typical band. Full of impetuous youthful energy and fearless swagger, Eric, the lead singer, is a brash, balls-0ut reckoning force.
Posing for the cameras, glaring manically and glossy-eyed at the audience while hyping them up, ripping off his shirt, totally disregarding the entreaties by the sound guy to hurry up their set Slime Kings took their time like rock stars), Eric is meant to be center stage.
The band’s audience, who stayed mostly their set, trickled in, skanked crazily, screamed lascivious obscenities at the Slime Kings , and then trickled out, covered in sweat.
If you’ve never seen a “Snake Pit” before, go check out a Snakebit Drifters show. The Drifters have concocted a seductive hybrid of high-energy rockabilly (minus the obvious kitsch), rock ‘n roll mariachi, and what one man in the audience screamed out before stomping his foot with drunken excitement, “it’s a honkey-tonk!”
Tim Willis is both imposing when he plays and rather, shall we say, loveable with the combination of his gritty growl and the warm energy he exudes.
Upright bassist, Robin San Jose, prompted comments from those around me of “he looks so awesome playing.” But, personally, what drew me into the Snakebit Drifters was drummer Kevin Yoches.
Hitting the kit harder than I think I’ve ever seen (or remembered) the veins in his neck pressed against his skin, but Yoches looked effortless, almost transcendent, like the hyper-spiritual musician character in a Jack Kerouac novel.
So cool; so unaware of his talent and dynamic presence.
Death Hymn Number 9 is not a psychobilly band. Not really. I was wrong to apply that label to them, I’ll admit it, but it’s really hard to put a label on a band with such an inventive sound and who answers their questions as zombies.
So, continuing on without actually labeling them, Death Hymn Number 9 aren’t just a bunch of white-faced, blood-covered provocateurs who cover up their lack of musical talent with bad attitudes and undead egos.
Death Hymn Number 9 are a rollicking good time and incredibly dynamic musicians at whatever their loud, crazed “brand” of rock is.
Despite the schtick, which holds back a lot of other bands, Death Hymn Number 9 could probably overcome that (without giving it up) and get national (or international) recognition on that DGAF lets-start-a-knife-fight punk-rock trail that bands like Fidlar and Bleeding Knees Club are successfully re-blazing.
My favorite of the night, Railroad to Alaska could already be on a path to fame, booking opening slots with huge bands, working their way to international recognition in a couple of years. Often, it’s easy to point out the person in a band who should be a “star.”
In the case of Railroad to Alaska, the band as a package is full of interesting characters–both onstage and off.
Their music, dubbed as “metal” mostly because it’s not an easily classifiable kind of sound, is visceral, future-forward, evocative, and really smart: a post-apocalyptic beatitude of sorts.
Railroad to Alaska’s fans are some of the most insane I’ve ever seen, even compared to an audience watching a bigger band. There is an almost orgiastic, sacrificial atmosphere, like the frothing fans headbutting other people in the pit are involved in some sort of ancient ritual.
With their sonic intensity and the fervor of their onstage performance, Railroad is able to expertly pull the “dark passenger” out of people, giving them a playground to act out their anger, vices, and fears.
All the things society tells them to quell.
Want to hang out with the KROQ crew and see more amazing bands next week?
Drop by Continental Room on February 7th for rockin’ artists like [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Mandie & Ruby[/lastfm],[lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Foxxhound[/lastfm],[lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Danny Maika[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Parker Macy[/lastfm], & [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Tully James Wilkinson[/lastfm].
The 2012 Showcase Series runs every Tuesday night, January 3 -February 14 with stops at:
Jan 3 – Detroit Bar
Jan 10- The District at Tustin Legacy
Jan 17 – The Slide Bar
Jan 24 -Malones
Jan 31 – Tiki Bar
Feb 7 – The Continental Room
Feb 14 -Constellation Room
Five Showcase Series finalists in each live category will then move on to the Showcase Series Finals.
Feb 24 – Best Live Acoustic Finals
Feb 25 – Best Live Band Finals
2012 Best Live Band winner will receive a performance slot on the four Southern Califonia Vans Warped Tour stops!
You have the power to send one Showcase artist to the Best Live Acoustic Finals and Best Live Band Finals.
Cast your vote and enter to win a massive prize pack from the OC Music Awards partners (To be Announced). Voting will begin on December 27 and will be open through the last Showcase on February 14. The votes will be tallied and the band with highest score will automatically move on to their Series Finals! Click here to vote
LEARN MORE AT: OCMUSICAWARDS.COM