OCMA Showcase, Night 3 Detroit Bar 1/21/14 Last night's showcase of the OC Music Awards held at the soon-to-be-extinct Detroit Bar, saw a decent showing by the evening's talent--even if the sounds were at times derivative of other more prominent acts. Best of all, there were no stinkers to speak of--though no act was flawless.
First up was my second-favorite act of the evening: Gardener's Logic. Hailing from Huntington Beach, this four-piece rocked a swirling, grungy indie rock style in the vein of Built to Spill or Modest Mouse. Their songs, though filled with punchy energy, were at no times overwrought. The band also showed they know how to dial it back with the occasional addition of acoustic guitar to their rock arrangements. The main criticism to be leveled would have to be pointed at singer Ian Bailey, who attempted to vocally soar at times, but thanks to some flat notes during key moments, he occasionally waddled.
Midnight Hour proved to be the most radio-ready band of the evening with their Temper Trap-meets-the Killers sound. While they played an exceptionally tight set, their overly commercial ambitions brought little to the stage to surprise us or advance the greater musical conversation. Singer Brad Lodge, while doubtlessly appealing to a large portion of the women in the room, annoyed us a bit with his constant mugging and miming (not to mention his exceedingly straight posture).
Future Fix performed another tight set, which smoldered with rock cliches. The band's singer occasionally channeled Creed's Scott Stapp--striking heroic poses while strumming his guitar. Worse yet were the cliches in his lyrics such as: "You've got to tear it down to build it back up again."
If there were an award for most adventurous performer, it would go to Sunny Spectrum. His trio rocked a blend of New Wave reminiscent of early INXS met with the vocals of Prince. The main problem with the sound is that Spectrum's falsetto during the show didn't seem to come from a natural spot in his diaphragm and sounds kind of like a pre-sneeze. At his best, he thrilled the audience by nearly pogoing into the ceiling, but at his worst, he strutted around stage like a man recently punched in the solar plexus.
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Rounding out the evening was Semi Sweet. The trio featured vocalist Cassandra Walter pulling triple duty, switching between guitar and keys. While this band proved my favorite of the of the entire showcase, I couldn't help but feel like I'd heard their mournful, haunting, yet groovy post punk sound somewhere else before--specifically in the verses and choruses of LA hipster band Warpaint. However, Walters (who bears a passing resemblance to a Victoria's Secret model), bears something unique in her voice that hints at possibilities beyond the Silverlake set--specifically a gorgeous crackling moan not unlike Bjork. The potential for growth is there, as long as the band keeps pushing.
All in all it was a fun show (and sadly it will be the last OCMA to take place at the Detroit Bar), which will soon shutter its doors for good. Next week's showcase will take place at the famed Slidebar. Lucky for the bands playing that night, I won't be in attendance. Good luck to you all, and continue to fight the good fight.