LIVE: SPAC Battle of the Bands @ the Spa Little Theater, 9/21/12

Crush with emcee Jeff Morand
Crush with emcee Jeff Mo’rad

OK, the set-up for the third annual SPAC Battle of the Bands didn’t go very smoothly. After two years of the competition at the start of the summer, this year the BoB was shuffled to the end of the summer, after all of the amphitheater shows were long gone. And despite extending the deadline for an extra week, only 29 bands entered the competition (compared to 68 in 2011 and 111 in 2010).

Then in the week leading up to the battle, one of the 10 finalists bowed out. A replacement was selected. And the next day they bowed out, too. Then the emcee for the evening couldn’t make it, either…

Not very promising, eh?

But having played in a couple of battles of the bands a long time ago, attended a few others and judged quite a few more over the years, I’ve got to say that SPAC’s BoB at the Spa Little Theater last Friday was the best I’ve ever seen. Each of the nine bands had 10 minutes on stage, and it ran like clockwork. None of the bands ran over the time limit, and the stage crew did a phenomenal job keeping things rolling, as did last-minute emcee replacement Jeff Mo’rad (WEQX-FM).

I was asked to throw in my two cents as a judge this year, joining the panel that was originally convened for last year’s throwdown – Vinnie Amico (moe.), Talia Billig (Blue Note Records) and Joel Marshall (WEQX-FM).

Not only was it a musically diverse bunch of bands, but they cut a very wide swath across generational lines, too, with veteran Nippertown music scenemakers like Folding Sky bookended by a couple of high-school bands. What’s more, from the opening volley of fuzzed-out garage-punk from the Mysteios to the veteran funkateers Jocamo, who closed the show, there wasn’t a single clunker in the mix.

In the end, it was the kids who took home the top honors… – “a prize package valued at over $4,000 that includes 25 hours of recording time at The Recording Company, airplay on WEQX and the opportunity to book a show at Putnam Den.”

Led by the wailing voice of 17-year-old Jocelyn Arndt – who sounded like a cross between Grace Potter and Heart’s Ann Wilson – the Dependents from Fort Plain landed in third place.

Queensbury rock trio VONTUS – fueled by some stunning guitar work from 15-year-old Johnny Gravitt – took the runner-up slot.

And Rotterdam’s Crush – a rollicking, 10-piece funk ‘n’ soul revue anchored by a 12-year-old bassist – walked off with the grand prize SPACkle Trophy.

Can’t wait to see what these bands churn out in the upcoming years…

It was a gas, and we here at Nippertown would like to send out a big thanks & good luck to all of the participants. Nice job all around:

The Dependents (Fort Plain)
Hard Soul (Albany)
Jocamo (Ballston Spa)
Crush (Rotterdam)
Folding Sky (Albany)
Next Station (Albany)
The Margo Macero Project (Glens Falls)
VONTUS (Queensbury)
The Mysteios (Albany)

Andrew Gregory’s review and photographs at CRUMBS Blog
Erica Miller’s photographs at The Saratogian

The Dependents
The Dependents
  1. John Brierley says

    The best thing about doing programs like this,is seeing all these bands in the same room,talking shop,hangin out and just having a good time. I can tell first hand thats what we all had:a good time. I was so glad to be part of it and the crowd was great. Thanx to the judges and the staff for making us feel welcome. All shows should be like this. See you around town….

  2. Allison G. says

    I went to the SPAC Battle of the Bands, and I thought every band did fantastic. It looked like everyone had a good time. Whether they were on stage or in the audience.

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