Democracy at work 

Show Review

Battle of the Bands
The Patio
Wednesday, July 7

There's no more democratic process than the one at work in Benchmark's Battle of the Bands at the Patio. Just like American Idol, the battle gives the good, bad, ugly, thrilling and boring musical acts of Indianapolis equal time and asks the audience to sort ’em out.

That was definitely the case Wednesday, when six acts ranging from pretty good to dreadful took the stage, with 83 Feet and Archer Avenue emerging as the night's winners. B

ut several other acts distinguished themselves as well. Northern Indiana hardcore band Alta-Mehra had the dual disadvantages of going first and not bringing a busload of hometown fans to Indy with them. Despite that, they played a powerful and intense set of hardcore with some grind underpinnings, kind of like an unholy cross between Burn It Down and Cannibal Corpse. It was the kind of set that makes you want to see them again.

The same goes for Hamilton County punkers Up Scumbag, which played straight-ahead punk with verve. Their song choice was questionable to me, having heard better songs on their EPs.

Vila Fishburn followed with an adequate if unexciting set.

The less said about Nirve's performance, the better. Perhaps it was just one of those unfortunate sets that plague even the greatest acts from time to time.

While the Dave Matthews-with-trombone sound of 83 Feet doesn't usually fill me with excitement, they showed why they're popular with local audiences. And that's because they work so damned hard. Not blessed with the best singer, or performers, they accomplish with sheer energy what many other bands can only hope to attain. I'm looking forward to seeing them again.

The other audience favorite, Archer Avenue, played a set of well-written, well-performed music but lacked the connection to the audience enjoyed by 83 Feet and even Alta-Mehra. This is yet another Indianapolis band with a world of potential.

All in all, a mixed bag of entertainment. But for $5, there's not a better value in town. And there's no Simon Cowell present.

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