Coming to the halfway point of the OC Music Awards Best Live Band competition typically means one thing: To the Slidebar we ride! While some battle of the band showcases use the middle to stuff their saggy, filler bands, the OCMA's always try to bring us the loudest, sweatiest acts they have. Some were good, some were meh, but all had enough heart and Red Bull-induced showmanship to draw a decent crowd and keep them there till the last note of the night. On tap were City By Storm, Rebel Revive, The Last Gang, Beneath the Buried and Sederra. For the sake of brevity, we've decided to forgo the the classic hand wringing review format. Instead, here's a photo recap of the bands along with our straight-from-the-hip assessments of their sound. Ready? RAWK!
City By Storm:
Like Death By Stereo and H20? So do these guys. Starting off the night with the appropriate amount of "hoorah!" attitude, City By Storm had all the attack of a clean cut, '90s punk band. The most original sound in the world? No, but they pull it off well. We're surprised the moshing didn't start earlier in the night with these guys, especially when they indulged us with a medley of all our favorite Clinton-era pop songs. Have you ever heard a Warped Tour version of a TLC, Chumbawumba and Third Eye Blind mash-up? Neither have we, nor have we wanted to…until last night.
We were told by people with a hefty amount of music knowledge that these dudes bare a lot of similarities to Gameface. We tend to agree, though the lead singer should've never apologized for sporting a mohawk during his set. You gotta own it, bro! Overall, their songs were catchy and rarely lost any steam. The lead singer also thanked his dad for being in the audience, props for knowing who your father is!
The Last Gang:
We'd compare this band to the Distillers or Ida Maria, but they probably already get that a lot. We recognized frontwoman Brenna Red from last year's OCMA competition as the leader of Fiction Reform, which apparently broke up. This sounds pretty much the same as that did, save for their out-of-left-field reggae grooves on one or two songs. The energy never let up, but every song required every instrument to be played at all times, so we kinda wish they added more dynamics to the sound instead of one big "Raaarrrrrrr!!!!!" for their entire set.
Beneath the Buried:
"Are you fuckers ready!" was basically the quote these guys lived by during their whole set. Apparently, us fuckers (i.e. the crowd) were ready when it came time for Beneath the Buried to unleash riff, after riff, after breakdown, after fist pump. A bandana, leather clad mix of cock rock and metal, BTB's sound is an OC band's take on Pantera that feels pretty authentic, even if it can be a little bro-ish at times. The band commanded their instruments and microphone with authority and if vocalist Kevin Beatty ever decides to quit music and become a pro wrestler for the WWE, we fully support that.
From an artistic standpoint, they seemed to be the most interesting and have the most to say, though being stuck at the end means they had less people in the audience to say it to as people started dwindling. But the band persevered, led primarily by singer Tom Schmitt and bassist Eric Bootow. The band was a great closer that embodied the spirit of OC punk as best it could while bringing a few more technical elements to the table.