Congratulations to Lolita Black and the Brother Kite on moving ahead to the 95.5 WBRU Rock Hunt finals following impressive performances last weekend.
Once again the alt-rock station has spread the Rock Hunt love by incorporating various clubs around the state, with a late-arriving crowd eventually filling JR's Rock House (inside Mardi Gras in Cranston) and a packed, spirited room rocking out at the Spot Underground downtown. This weekend's action kicks off at Fête in Olneyville (103 Dike St, Providence, 401.383.1113) on Friday, followed by an East Bay rager at Gillary's (198 Thames St, Bristol, 401.253.2012) on Saturday. The final four will square off at the Met (1005 Main St, Pawtucket, 401.79.1005) on April 6. Both shows this weekend are 18+ and begin at 9 pm sharp with a $5 cover.
Lolita Black took the stage first (order of bands chosen at random) to a modest crowd (unfortunately Mardi Gras could not secure an 18+ permit) and immediately blew the roof off with an unreleased track called "Serpentine." "Let us take you all on a trip to hell!" lead singer Scarlett Delgado sneered before "Red Descent"; I noticed an older woman on crutches who looked genuinely nervous, along with a fire marshal who checked the doors and then swiftly exited. The band sounded tighter than ever on "Fireheart" and "Two Lane Blacktop," as Kayleigh Melise pummeled her kit behind long jet-black locks (if Rapunzel had a bad-ass, goth-metalhead sister, it would be Melise). Delgado was seen limping after the set and revealed a badly bruised sprained ankle she suffered during the first song. It was a hard-earned victory. In terms of 'BRU radio-readiness (one of six categories on the ballot), Satellites Fall had the edge, and I wouldn't be surprised to hear more from them outside of the station's HomeBRU'd timeslot (weeknights at 9). A Facebook post from the band stated they will be entering again next year. The Rare Occasions got off to a slow start but really impressed, considering the fact that they didn't even look old enough to drive to the show. The band received the loudest crowd reaction before the votes were tallied, but the judges sided with Lolita Black.
The following night at the Spot Underground, the Clyde Lawrence Band wowed the judging panel (big shout-out to Sarah and Rob!), though we all noted that Clyde's little sister Gracie should have had a chance to shine and take a lead vocal, as her soundcheck instantly perked ears up. Next up was Sienna, which won the room over with an energetic performance, and lead singer Viana Newton seemed (and sounded) more confident than ever onstage. But it was the Brother Kite who scored a clean sweep with the four judges. TBK pulled out some new tunes from the forthcoming Model Rocket LP, and there was no denying the expert harmonies on uber-catchy beauties "Eye to Eye" and "Get On, Me."
With the opening weekend in the books, let's look ahead to the second batch of semifinalists. Which two acts will complete the 2013 Rock Hunt final four bracket?FRIDAY
THE MIGHTY GOOD BOYS (facebook.com/themightygoodboys): It's safe to say these Appalachian folk-inspired dudes are about to break out in the near future — we could have the next Brown Bird here. Business picked up quickly last year for the Mighty Good Boys; the crew played out regularly, including some nice opening slots for kindred spirits like Joe Fletcher.
RHYTHM ROOM LIVE (rhythmroomlive.com): Wow, this nine-piece ensemble drew arguably the toughest draw of the semifinals. Billed as "high-energy music wrapped in world rhythms," Rhythm Room Live will need to funk the room up behind founders Rick Morin and George Dussault. 2011's Groove Infusion is a percussion-powered mix of soul, jazz, and rock, and reminds me of a cross between Fall & Bounce and Santa Mamba. While Rhythm Room Live could be considered big-time underdogs here, anything is possible.
TORN SHORTS (tornshortsmusic.com): Singer/songwriter Josh Grabert jumped onto the local music scene with Gamblin' Hands a few years back, and Torn Shorts presents a grand evolution with Grabert fully developing his sound with a complete band in tow. The '12 full-length debut Life On a River was one of the year's best locally sourced albums. "I was never ready . . . for the big show," Grabert bluffs on "Brow St.," but he isn't fooling me; I've had these guys pegged for big things since hearing the Mill demos last year. I anticipate a tight race here.