Congratulations to the Rice Cakes, winners of the 2012 WBRU Rock Hunt. A jam-packed crowd rocked out at the Met on Friday, and the highly-appreciative bands clearly fed off the energy throughout the evening. But in the end — to paraphrase George Costanza — lead Rice Cake Roz Raskin and her mates were be-boppin and scattin' all over the stage, winning over the judges with their unique blend of jazzy rhythms and uptempo jams, which eventually resulted in a feel-good moshpit. Oh, and fuck the naysayers — anyone in attendance would agree that this was a great night for local music.
SITTING PRETTY Foster, Belisle, and Raskin.
The seven judges included Miss Wensday Timebomb, Providence Monthly executive editor Julie Tremaine, me, and Shawn and Tracy Garrity, aka 2011 Rock Hunt winners VulGarrity. Points are awarded in six categories (musicianship, radio-readiness, vocals, performance, etc.), and the overall winner tallied from each judge counts as one vote. Each band performs a 35-minute set, and one cover song is allowed.
Talk about a diverse final four bracket — musically there isn't much binding Sic Vita, Northern Lands, the Rice Cakes, and Kingston 530, though all worked the room like confident, seasoned pros, and garnered some new fans along the way. And while the Rice Cakes can look forward to a year of airplay, any of these acts could (and most likely will) receive future spins on 95.5 (check out "Home BRU'd" weeknights at 9 pm). Onstage the competition aspect seemed secondary to the party itself, with each band genuinely enjoying the moment.
"No matter what happens tonight, I've had the time of my life," declared vocalist Armand Cabral of Sic Vita, which opened the proceedings at 8:30 pm sharp (the order was chosen at random) and kicked out alt-rock anthems from their debut EP Steady. "Atlas" opened the set and instantly ignited the pogo-hopping. "Northern Whispers" started off a little bumpy but picked up steam, as did the Incubus-flavored "Stay." The quintet wisely closed the set with the current single "Dangerous by Design" and ultimately received the loudest ovation of the night.
I had Northern Lands in a landslide a few weeks back during the semi-finals, and the newfound foursome of veteran musicians once again did not disappoint. Singer/guitarist Joshua Cournoyer is one of the most impassioned dudes I've ever witnessed onstage (even his mic check was intense), and his latest venture alongside local music (and dive bar) vet Aaron Jaehnig (also bassist with Girl Haggard) is onto something pretty damn special. "This is the one that started it all for me," Cournoyer beamed prior to "This Old War." I am hooked on this song, and I'd be surprised if these guys aren't out touring the country with Deer Tick and/or Joe Fletcher by year's end. There's just enough country/CCR-fueled twang tucked in there, and new cuts "Pulled" and "You Took a Dive" (from their forthcoming full-length) show bigtime potential. I couldn't get past guitarist Pete Hayeden's yellow tie-dye shirt (brutal), but all was forgiven when they pulled out a slow-burning cover of Bruce Springsteen's "I'm On Fire" for a finale that eventually exploded with the night's best rhythm section of bassist Jaehnig and drummer Josh Wallace on full display. Northern Lands are in for big things this year — guaranteed.