The penultimate Battle of the Bands heat took place in Lonsdale bar on Friday, week 6. As a Bowlander, I don’t generally make a point of venturing into the Red Lion outside of Founder’s weekend, but for this I thought that I would make an exception. The bar was buzzing and grew fuller as the evening wore on.
Shovel Man took to the stage as the first act, announcing that he “should have had a band with him tonight but they all bailed because they’re suckers”. A few 1975 covers went down well with the crowd, and while his performance would definitely have benefited from having a band, it was certainly a noble solo effort and a solid start to the proceedings. A few of the notes were a bit of a stretch and, ultimately, the performance felt like it was lacking something.
Second at the bat was Marco Tamimi, another solo act. A definite highlight of this set was the fantastic cover of Gnarls Barkley classic Crazy and it was this that reminded me what the previous act had been lacking; charisma. Tamimi had a great rapport with the audience and while his set also consisted of covers, he had expertly selected a range that highlighted his strengths and got the audience pumped. A few of his attempts at mash ups were pretty weak and it would probably have been better to just play the song as is, but it was ultimately still a great set that gave the judges a really hard time when selecting who would progress to the final.
Zlew Is Dead were up next and brought a welcome change of pace to the evening as the first of the acts to play original songs. Despite a brief interlude due to a broken string, Zlew Is Dead seemed really well rehearsed and put together. They managed to seem very casual and comfortable on stage, but also very professional and practiced. While they weren’t necessarily the best act to play the Sugarhouse (they were a little more subdued than some others), their polished performance made it impossible to consider themselves anything but a front runner.
The fourth and final act of the evening, Nanalade, was a bit marred by dreadful sound mixing which rendered their vocals incomprehensible and their keyboards strange and dissonant. That said, the injection of some sassy keyboards to my evening was very welcomed and if nothing else, they really went for it. Their love themed mash up was beyond genius, their inclusion of the Fresh Prince Rap was fantastic and the crowd pretty much went mental for them – it was certainly easy to imagine them bringing it in Sugar. The fact that they had only been practicing for two weeks prior to their performance was particularly impressive given the interesting ideas they had for their set and their cohesive performance.
The strength of all the acts made the judges decision of who to grant a place in the final and who to award Wildcard status incredibly difficult and as a result, it was decided to move two acts straight into the final and not have a Wildcard for the heat. After much debate, Nanalade and Zlew is Dead were given the slots in the Sugarhouse, although all four acts were acknowledged as being brilliant.