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.
This week's edition of Birdy's Battle Royale featured a particularly wide variety of bands competing. Prowlers and The Prey, based out of Broad Ripple, don't even have an album out yet — something they plan to rectify — but they won because their music pushed the boundaries of what fans expect from both folk and rock. If the Carolina Chocolate Drops teamed up with Mumford and Sons, they might come close to this style, and Kyra Waltz, a dead ringer for Bonnie Raitt, is definitely a vocalist to watch in the local scene.
Dead Birds Adore Us, which finished second, provided the other end of the variety spectrum, pushing progressive rock with a bent toward Zappa-esque mathematical experimentation. They impressed the crowd with a set that wasted no time, sticking to the music for most of their 25 minutes. They consistently kept listeners guessing with their complicated time signatures and riffs which demanded our full attention.
Again we had no third place finisher, as the audience continues to grow. Clearly any of the four other bands could return to cause havoc in the competition. Case in point: Relics In Antiques, a folk-rock duo from central Indiana focusing on what they call “drunken folk in tribute to what's left behind.” They certainly impressed in the night's opening spot. “Hotel Suite” featured vocals and melody akin to Alt-J – if they shared the stage with Kings of Leon. “Little Chickadee” had a harder punk edge.
The Everyday Losers followed, driving all the way from Washington, Ind., and I'll be stunned if they don't sneak into the wild-card round as they were by far the most experienced band of the night. Heavily influenced by Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam and their contemporaries, the band has already toured extensively with Saliva. “Scream” definitely reminded me a lot of Alien Ant Farm's recent Vogue performance. It's amazing they're not already locked up by a major label.
Singer-songwriter Chris Burch reminded me of Tony Lucca, with his blend of bluesy acoustic rock. He could have stood to prep more for the battle format, telling me he put his set-list together on the fly. While the audience seemed to enjoy his music, he alienated some with longer versions of songs like “Tumbling Down,” which went on for nearly five minutes. His self-titled EP proves he's got a solid sound, however, and I'd want to see him again if he chose to put together a band to flesh out the acoustic songs.
Indianapolis' Minute Details also deserves a mention. Playing songs off their album Tequila Party for Robots, the band was the hardest to pin down sonically. The best comparison I can make is to the band Ween, which itself spent years defying easy comparison. Though the band's garage alt-rock sound clearly is influenced by the Pixies, Built to Spill and a myriad of other bands, they sounded like none of them and that's a good thing. The members also had great on-stage chemistry, making them a band I'd definitely want to hear play a longer set.