- ROUND THREE VICTORS: The See.
The Showcase might've gotten Girl Talked a bit on Thursday (see page 38), but no matter, no riders-of-the-zeitgeist DJs are scheduled for March 6. That's the finals. Mark your calendars, people!
Those who were down the street sweating their faces off won't want to miss the See (Tyler Nance, Dylan Yelenich and Joe Yoder), again. The band, as our guest judge Rob Bell said, plays "indie rock like it was meant to be played." That is, with the right touches of dissonance and melody. With a drummer, who pounded the hell out of his kit without being too fussy. With big vocals and the most hyperactive bassist/keyboardist in Little Rock. Hell, there was even non-ironic fist-pumping (see Rock Candy for evidence).
But as it was and always will be, the other acts were no slouches.
Before Four on the Floor even took the stage at 9 p.m. (early by rock 'n' roll standards), its members were posing for pictures with fans. When I got up to make my introduction, 100 or so crowded around the stage and nearly shouted me down. When the band unleashed its hard rock fury, its fans started bobbing around and singing along. Between the first and second songs, they chanted the band's name.
Metal will never die.
Especially with bands taking Four on the Floor's considered approach. The group borrows equally from the Judas Priest-era hard rock and the post-grunge of Layne Staley acolytes. Guitarist Charlie Page, in the role of Jimmy's long-lost cousin, offered up plenty of Guitar Hero tricks, and lead man E.C. Haynes strutted and punched the air in time with drum fills, generally transfixing our judges, who seemed to appreciate the band only slightly less than the audience. Judge Nicole Boddington said, approvingly, that her "face melted off" somewhere during the band's set.
Style Guide followed, showing sharp improvement from its debut. Jeremy Brasher's stuttering synth-beats continue to star, but the moody vocals of Erin Lang and Lydia Washburn seem poised to make this electro-pop trio a must-see act in the near future.
Judge Jason Tedford said Brasher's "awesome, New Wave synth beats" made him want to dance, even though he never dances, but he said he'd like to hear "more harmony vocals." 607 echoed several judges when he said they seemed "a bit inhibited."
Stage presence comes with stage time. Here's betting at the band's next gig, at Cool Shoes on Feb. 27, they'll be looser.
Sean West finished with a smooth soul set and a lot of jokes. The judges liked his vocals, but as they have in past weeks, they longed for more than a backing track. But times are hard and bands don't just materialize over night, particularly for a midnight gig on a work night that didn't pay. Still, West convinced a number of talented friends to lend a hand. Osyrus helped out on West's new radio-ready single "Bourgeois Hoes." Epiphany guested on the duo's "Loafaz and Lacez," which Jason Weinheimer called "a highlight of the Showcase." Jazz saxophonist J. White even made an appearance.
Here's the lowdown on Thursday's show, which like all semi-final rounds, is at Sticky Fingerz beginning at 9 p.m.:
Midwest Caravan. This indie rock band — the rare duo — grew out of a solo folk project that guitarist/vocalist Sammy Williams started in his hometown in Shreveport. While booking bands there, Williams met some Arkansas acts, and after college, he moved to Little Rock, which is where he met drummer Joie Lyle, another recent transplant. After gigging some with Sean Michel, Lyle joined forces with Williams and Midwest Caravan's current, more rockin' incarnation was born.
Rockst*r. A descendent of Alex Haley ("Roots"), this local MC/producer has been going hard since he moved to town four years ago. Putting out polished videos. Releasing singles with production from big names (like David Banner). And dropping a handful of strong mixtapes, most recently "Rockst*r for President," which you can download for free at myspace.com/rockstaronline.
Good Time Ramblers. Three-fifths of the Munks back local singer/songwriter John Lefler in this self-described "Delta rock" band (that is, "classic country with a tinge of rock 'n' roll"). Since forming in 2005, the four-piece has shared bills with the likes of Blue Mountain, Junior Brown and Robert Earl Keen. They've got one seven-song EP, entitled "Sinners Welcome" under their belt and hope to release a full-length, tentatively titled "Nashville Cowboy," in the not-too-distant future.
The Chicklettes. An alter-ego band for the couple behind Ace Spade and the Whores of Babylon, this punk rock act started back in 2001, when Cindy Sinn (drums) and Sophonda Mayhem (vocals) met in a taxicab in New York. The line-up has changed fairly often through the years — Jessica Strange (guitar) and Aggro Annie (bass) currently round it out — but, as the band says, it's always been about "lyrics that are both funny and convey an angry demand for equality and respect for all." Amen. Catch them Saturday at Circa 76.
Who? Singer/songwriter, producer, jingle writer.
On the third round: I love this band [the See]. Dylan is the perfect foil to Joe. They're the oddball couple of local indie rock.
Who? Local music critic.
On the third round: The more [the See] played, the more I liked them. Rousing performance. Solid musicianship. Achieved an expansive sound for a tight three-piece.
Who? Last year's winner.
On the third round: [Runners up Four on the Floor] played the best damned MILF-metal I've ever heard
On the third round: I really liked the energy and passion [the See] put in their performance. Great stage presence and good songs. My favorite drummer of the competition so far!!
Shannon Boshears guest judge, feb. 19
Claim to fame: Two decades of performing locally. Two albums of standout roots rock. And a song on the soundtrack to Joey Lauren Adam's "Come Early Morning."