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BATTLE OF THE BANDS // AND THE WINNER IS... By Ryan Phillips Print E-mail
Wednesday, 07 August 2013


By Ryan Phillips


Tuscaloosa’s finest local music acts took to the stage to compete on Wednesday, July 31 in the grand finale for Battle of the Bands hosted by Rhythm & Brews and 95.3 The Bear.

With four local acts on the bill for the final round, listeners steadily filled the iconic venue despite the threat of severe weather and were not disappointed. Those in attendance were treated to hip-swinging tunes from Shod Shirby, Crazy Chester, Organic Androids and Casey Thrasher.

Each band was given a 30-minute set to showcase their talents with first prize being $800 cash and a Saturday night gig at Rhythm and Brews during the football season. Second prize was $200 and the third place winner was awarded a bar tab.

At the end of the night, Casey Thrasher and his band walked away with the top prize after enticing the crowd with soulful covers of country songs that drove the crowd into a honky-tonk frenzy.

Despite the competition between the bands, much love was to be had for the other participating acts from other bands. Several times throughout the night each band would ask for applause from the audience for the previous performers, showing good sportsmanship throughout the whole music bill for the evening.

When Crazy Chester took the stage to begin the night, they opened with a Colt Ford cover and blazed through a country and rock set that warmed the crowd up while a thunderstorm raged outside. With intricate guitar solos and commendable harmonization, Crazy Chester delivered their own brand of country to the patrons at Rhythm and Brews.

Steve Wallace, bass player for Crazy Chester, impulsively joined the band after being asked by a friend. The result was a competitive sound that brought Crazy Chester to the finals playing on one of the most popular stages in the city.

“A couple of weeks ago, my buddy Brad, the lead singer, called me up on a Wednesday and ask if I wanted to play battle of the bands and we won that night”, Wallace said. “It’s been a blast so far.”

Crazy Chester finished third at the end of the night, but according to Wallace, it is about playing music in a special venue for people who enjoy it.

“Whether we win or lose, it is still fun,” he said. “This is the best stage in town with the best sound man in town, I’ve been wanting to play here for awhile and I finally got to, you sound like a million bucks playing here.”

Organic Androids were third on the bill and ultimately finished second despite a genre-bending set that incorporated original material with covers like “Feel Good Inc.” by The Gorillaz.

Blending both rap and progressive rock, Organic Androids rocked the house with energetic stage presence and musical skill. A new staple to the Tuscaloosa music scene, Organic Androids were the only band that did not employ a country song, which ultimately added to the diversity of the bill. While they did not finish in first place, it was clear that their music had a profound effect on the audience as people got out of their seats to see what this forward-thinking Tuscaloosa act was putting down.

The winning performance, however, had the crowd surging to the stage in an image starkly reminiscent of a George Strait concert. As fans stretched out their hands and raised their drinks, Casey Thrasher wooed the good-timing crowd with country covers that took the audience on a musical rollercoaster. Throughout the set, Casey Thrasher and company offered the ecstatic crowd up-tempo rhythms one song and slow dance softness on the next. Upon completion of their set, the boisterous round of applause was all it took to sew the victory up.

At one point, the band vacated the stage save for the singer and keyboardist and the result was a cover of Lonestar’s “Amazed”, which garnered the heaviest round of applause heard all evening.

As the evening winded down, the competitive spirit wore off and members of each band could be seen socializing and having fun with other performers, which shows art at its most rudimentary level in that at the end of the night, it was all about fun and music.

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