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.
With just one week of Semifinals left after this, and then the six-band slugfest which is sure to ensue, I’m already going through withdrawals. It’s going to be hard to find a way to top the intensity of these battles, a sure sign that Birdy’s has done well to revamp this entire process.
Second place went to Craig B. Moore and the Invaders, and I have to say, I love that a band led by a junior high principal can rock as consistently hard as these guys do. Moore is a confident front-man who still reminds me of Eddie Vedder, particularly when he gets really into originals like “Your Dreams.” They should be considered a dark horse to win it all.
Speedbird opened the night, and like with TimeSlip last week, it was the third time I’d seen them play a full set. The band continues to show development of their core sound, but it was likely they'd be outmatched by the competition here from the start. They gave it their all in the wildcard battle, so this performance was gravy. They’ll be headlining on May 23 at Birdy’s for something of a “Best Of” night, where the best of this and past battles will reunite. Should be a killer show!
The Breakes followed and did not disappoint. I always get behind drummers who sing, and I immediately remembered why I liked these guys from all the way back in week one. The Black Keys vibe still came through, and they were great tonight overall but just not good enough to sneak past bands like Dead Birds and those Invaders. Give them an hour-long headlining set somewhere and they’ll remain a must-see.
Against The Clocks no longer have the dueling lead singer/keyboardists, but they remained in top form tonight, even mixing in new material as they fought for a spot in the finals. I’ve heard their album now, and the comparisons I’ve made to Kings of Leon and Bruce Hornsby hold up, but there’s also a lot of Jackson Browne’s early songwriting in there. A throwback band with real chops, these songs get better the more you hear them.
Jeff Kelly rounded out the night, and though he’s already through to the next round with Prowlers and the Prey, it was still tough to see him bow out. I’m going to start calling him folk punk from here on, because no one gets more energy out of a single guitar and a microphone than this guy. His eight minute “Blizzard” performance was incredible on its own, a highlight of the entire competition.