Editor's note: Birdy's Battle Royale pits 48 bands against each other in a months-long competition for cash and prizes. Each week, the top two bands progress to the next round. NUVO sends music correspondent Jonathan Sanders to survey Birdy's Battle Royale weekly. He reports back here. Read more Birdy's Battle Reports here.
At long last, we’ve come to the end of the road. After this week’s ultimate semifinal round, the title bouts are now set, and the bands know who they must take down in order to exit Birdy’s with that $5,000 pot.
Tonight’s winner, Brother O’ Brother, dominated the competition, winning by nearly 300 points. This duo has a frontman so confident he ought to just shanghai Jack White and bruise their way onto Third Man’s roster. They are easily the first Indianapolis band since Hero Jr that perfectly scratches the itch required to successfully go national.
Nash Walker and the Doctors showed up tonight sounding even better than I remembered. They earned second place with their heavy guitars, ear-bending hooks and a singer who straddles the line between '90s alt rock and something more modern I just can’t put my finger on. That something all their own is what sets them apart and makes them a real wildcard going into the finals.
DysFUNKtion Brass opened the night on virtually the same page they left us reading during the wildcard round. They held their ground in the opening spot, but really didn’t push the envelope from what we’d already heard — perhaps they showed their best during fight just to reach the semifinals. I’m told they’re shifting their focus to more covers, in the vein of their ripping version of “Take On Me,” and still plan to be an Indy fixture.
The Rhaspers brought a ton of supporters, and we all witnessed a tighter set than when they first played. The folk and hip-hop sides of their coin were equally represented — “Legs” and “Vultures Circling” were each crowd favorites and solid intros to the Rhaspers’ sound. They had a new CD with them as well, so I’m looking forward to hearing what twists they put into the studio versions.
3rd Eye Soul went the opposite direction, focusing more on their dueling hip-hop MCs rather than building up the differences between the hip-hop and soul elements. Their female singer deserved more than to be mere background, with that voice we already know from round one. I will say they have the potential to become Naptown’s first true collective in the vein of Doomtee, which is enough reason to continue seeking them out.
My favorite from the early rounds, The Fuss closed out the night with psychedelic rock exactly as expected. And though I could personally listen to hours of music in that vein, they really didn’t do much different than their first performance. Their frontman has amazing solos and the band’s performance was airtight, using all 30 minutes to full effect. They just came up short on votes.
Be sure to check back with us next Thursday for a breakdown of the final six competing bands. The competitors are Dead Birds Adore Us, Prowlers and the Prey, Brother O’ Brother, Among the Compromised, Nash Walker and the Doctors and Craig B. Moore and the Invaders. Who will emerge with the victory?