One shining moment

Fairhaven grab the brass ring at the 'BRU rock hunt
By CHRIS CONTI  |  April 7, 2009

090410_Vienna_m
GETTING THEIR BURLESQUE ON The Viennagram. 

Fairhaven won a tight race at the 2009 WBRU Rock Hunt Finals at Lupo's on April 4. I was one of six judges (which also included record label reps and Johnny Lingo of former Rock Hunt victors Fungus Amungus), and the voting criteria consisted of six categories, including musicianship, songwriting, and radio-readiness. And we can't stress enough the benefit of 'BRU having Wendell Clough back at the helm as program director, as the four-hour throwdown ran smoothly and drew a great turnout.

After watching the Viennagram destroy Jerky's as the opening act of the semifinals, I was curious to see if they could repeat on a much larger scale, as Lupo's filled up quickly soon after the Viennagram's prompt 6 pm start. Ringleader A.V. Vienna was yucking it up on his podium, looking like Beetlejuice (or the ghost of Nick Cave) and keeping the crowd enthralled. And while their music isn't exactly radio-friendly, the live show is worth seeking out and pretty much redefines "concert experience." I counted at least 21 people on stage at one point, including a vaudevillian combo of Stevie Nicks and Mae West waving a plastic raygun (there were about five costume changes during the 40-minute set). Musically, the drums and trumpet and guitars locked in when they needed to amidst the shtick. And the delayed reaction between each song from some of the puzzled all-ages crowd was equally entertaining; I overheard a duo of Abercrombie kids concur that they were "one of those fucking weird Olney-ville bands."

Baylock (myspace.com/baylockmusic) bassist John Mclaughlin was hamming it up a bit too much but certainly having the time of his life, and didn't detract from the serious jam sessions on their centerpiece "Gone for Good," soaring beyond the six-minute studio version. The song starts like any other Sublime-style bonfire song before the quartet launches into full-blown, crowd-pleasing riffs, and there was no denying Baylock's rhythm section of Mclaughlin and drummer Matt Kirby. The stop-and-go improv seemed a little disjointed at times, but these guys had their fans chanting "Baylock! Baylock!" throughout the evening.

For the Love of Sloane (myspace.com/fortheloveof sloane) is just a few tweaks away from something really big. Songs such as "So What If" and "Bitter" and their set opener, "Drying Blue," show promise for Elese Morrone and crew. In terms of merch sales, FTLOS dominated, with fans sporting their shirts all over Lupo's, including Morrone's grandpa, wearing a purple Glo-necklace and black FTLOS tee. Nice. The female vocals and big power-pop hooks remind me of last year's victor, It Was the Best of Times (whose guitarist Bob Jack reports the band just returned from recording their debut full-length in Detroit), and though For the Love of Sloane understandably showed some nerves, there's no denying the band's songwriting ability.

Fairhaven (myspace.com/fairhavenri) closed out the show and walked away with the prizes (I had all four acts within three points of each other) — and lead singer Alan Connell probably could have walked out with your girlfriend, as the ladies were swooning for the Cumberland quartet.

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