Kingston 530 closed out the contest, but had to follow the killer set supplied by the Rice Cakes. K530's lead singer Chris Ferrara was more than happy to just be there, cheesing for pics and gushing thanks to the swarm of supporters dancing away down front. Their blend of blue-eyed soul and sweetened pop was catchy enough (along with some surprisingly serious guitar licks) and the quintet was all smiles from their opening number "95" to the feel-good closer "Long Time Coming."
I know at least one judge had an overall vote for Kingston 530, but there was no stopping Roz Raskin, Justin Foster, and Casey Belisle. The Rice Cakes rocked the Spot Underground two weeks prior, and my newfound crush on Northern Lands couldn't deter me from voting the Rice Cakes as Rock Hunt champions. I still have no idea how to refer to the Rice Cakes' sound, but I do know that opening and closing the set with spiked, chant-along anthems "Zabudabudee" and "Magma" sealed the deal, helped by the sly, jazzy groove cooked up on their cover of the Zombies' "Time of the Season," with Raskin and drummer Belisle working the harmonies nicely. It's impossible not to root for Raskin, who chimed in between songs with cheery "fuck yeah, maaaan, this is so fucking rad, maaaan" enthusings. The trio switched up instruments during some new jams, and dug into older fan faves from previous releases (The Friend Ship, Feel Like Human, and 2011's Monster Man). The crowd erupted when WBRU program director Wendell Clough made the announcement and crowned the Rice Cakes around 12:20 am.
I checked in with Ms. Raskin following the victory.
"The crowd was super-energized and wild," she said. "We saw tons of family, friends, and longtime fans in the crowd, as well as a lot of new people that heard us for the first time on WBRU and came out to see us live."
The Rock Hunt victory yields a $5000 prize pack which includes professional photo and video shoots, a G-note of recording time courtesy of Jack Gauthier and Lakewest Recording, and a batch of gigs, including the Summer Concert Series. But Raskin is particularly stoked about the coveted airplay.
"There is something so sweet about getting that kind of exposure to a whole new audience," said Raskin.
The Rice Cakes will continue their busy DIY mini-tour schedule (proudly sponsored by Narragansett Beer), with basement house shows and bar gigs lined up from here to New Orleans through the end of April, then return and crank out another 7" this summer.
"Yeah man, the plan right now is touring, followed by a shit-ton more touring," Raskin declared.
"It's also important to note that all three of us come from encouraging and loving families that are extremely supportive of our choice to play music for a living.
"It's not the most stable career at the moment, but we hope it will be someday."