For the past several months, Wednesdays have drug many of us out to the Patio for the Battle of the Bands. Some would argue the existence of a Josh Baker/Rolling Rock conspiracy to keep the battles running as long as possible. Expect next year's run to go an unprecedented 52 consecutive weeks.
All kidding aside, the Battles should be credited as a phenomenal concept that has re-energized the music community and given 90-plus bands an avenue for exposure to a built-in audience. Thursday marks the end of this long haul. Over 90 bands have been whittled down to the remaining six that will take the Vogue stage. The real question is what are we going to do on Wednesday nights from now on?
Devil To Pay
These guys got involved in the Battle by enlisting as a substitute for a band that dropped out of the running at the last minute. Not a bad confidence-builder to win their first live show ever. As with the Pub Sigs, Steve Janiak fronts Devil To Pay. In spite of that little bit of information, you won't get the two confused, guaranteed. Devil To Pay is a guitar-heavy stoner rock band of doom with the feel of Kyuss and Nebula. Janiak's voice morphs into a gritty rock growl backed by grinding guitars and pulsing explosions erupting from the drums. Devil To Pay features Janiak on guitar and vocals, Rob Secrist on guitar, Matt Stokes on bass and Chad Prifogle on drums.
Extra Blue Kind
Extra Blue Kind has, over the last year, proven themselves to be one of the most promising groups in the local music scene. Stockpiling as much critical acclaim as a band can in our little pond, EBK has crossed the coveted barrier of the airwaves by having a couple of their singles spun on WRZX and WZPL. It's a deserved commendation for this substantially radio-friendly group. David Handy, Randee Eimer, Squirt and David Barajas provide a provocative energy on stage with an onslaught of hooks, melodies and guitars.
The Fuglees are a good band aspiring to be a bad band that is actually really good. It's hard to resist the charm of their orange prison suits and songs with lyrics like 'I can be your Sonny Bono, you can be my Yoko Ono, but you're not playing in my band.' Tom, Andy and Erich are funny boys, but don't let them fool you; they are tight musicians with catchy songs and great melodies.
Having seen Loretta a dozen or so times does not diminish the number of goose bumps I experience. Seriously. They play with a possessed energy that fuels their brilliantly raw harmonies and fierce guitar drives. Beautifully exhausting, it seems appropriate when they collapse after finishing on stage. The band consists of Jason, Damon and Jeremy Weidner, Stan Muller, with Thursday marking the farewell show for bassist Matt Akers. Emotions will undoubtedly be running high. I'm forecasting twice their regular amperage, so start placing your bets on how many guitar strings Stan and Jason will lay to waste.
The Pub Sigs
The Publiminal Sigs have been around for the better part of a decade as a more-rock-than-pop group that's settled in Indianapolis from Muncie. Steve Janiak fronts the band with Chris Coy on bass, Mark Davis on drums and Larry King on guitar and backing vocals. They play pretty straightforward rock with some of the best riffs in town. Janiak is a passive-aggressive leader with a commanding rock voice and songwriting skills to keep even a first-time listener interested. They were one of the three bands left standing out of 250 for the X103 St. Patrick's Day contest along with fellow Battle finalists EBK and the Fuglees.
Summing up The Slurs as a punk band is a misnomer. This is a band fueled by love of rock: sweaty, dirty and raw. Usually compared to the Stooges, The Slurs are more like the Gaza Strippers groping the Buzzcocks with baby oil, body glitter and fire. The Slurs are Nick Pryor, Jim Kuczkowski, Kris Messer, Justin Allen and Brad Wallace. They put on an amped live show as a collective, but Allen definitely graduated to head of his class from Iggy's School of Rock. Their growing following is ready to rock, too, which makes The Slurs one of the best live shows in the state, guaranteed.
Saying this is stiff competition is an understatement. If all the finalists bring their 'A' games, the outcome will be impossible to predict. Even with the 11 judges that will be on hand, the crowd vote still controls 50 percent of the outcome.
Discounting the contest stakes for the bands - prizes include a touring van provided by the Lockhart Group, $1,500 cash - this is a great bill for anyone interested in seeing some of the best music Indy has to offer for $5 at the Vogue. The doors open at 8 p.m. with the show starting at 9 on Thursday, Aug. 1.