- Will McCarty
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.
This week brought the first mid-show cancellation, meaning only four of the scheduled five bands performed. That said, the talent level of the bands who did show up was as consistent as ever.
The winner of the night, Stackhouse, brought hair-metal of the '80s into the present day with all the hard rock and camp you'd expect. Birdy's booker Henry French even introduced them by saying if they sounded halfway like they looked we'd be in for a treat. The band proved divisive among audience members, a real love it or hate it thing. I fell for their sound completely because they really sold the G'n'R-meets-Def Leppard aesthetic perfectly. That, and their originals were top notch and their command of the stage was the best I've seen in the battle so far.
Craig B. Moore and the Invaders followed as the final performers of the night, and they finished a strong second. With a lead singer who made me think what Soundgarden might sound like if fronted by Canada's Matthew Good, the band focused on heavy melodic alt-rock with ear-catching hooks. They took a risk in spending a large chunk of their time on a set-ending cover of "Alive" by Pearl Jam, but they went all-in and won the crowd over
Though no third-place band was named, Birdy's was crowded and the voters were out in force. So there's no reason to think the night's opener, DysFUNKtion Brass Band, wouldn't at least have a shot at fighting its way into the wild-card round. Considering this was the seven-member brass band's first performance together outside their role as members of the official Indy Eleven band, I was impressed with their heady blend of hip-hop and pep. The sheer number of members often overpowered the vocals, but their enthusiasm was infectious. An emphasis on long songs meant they played only four during their set, but they used the time wisely. If they do become a wild-card act they'll be one to watch.
For fans of Fastball and Harvey Danger, with hints of Calexico under the surface, ¡TORO! showed that there's room for straight-up rock with a twist of Southwest flavor. The second band to perform featured solid guitar solos brought hints of Blues Traveler-esque harmonica to the performance, and it is clear their original songs draw influence from a broad spectrum of sounds, from blues to classic rock and even '90s grunge. Their style would benefit from more time to stretch; less than half an hour was barely enough time to be drawn into the mix, let alone revel in it.