Editor’s note: please welcome Joshua McGrath, another Dayton Campus Connect intern, to the Dayton Music section.
Canal Street Tavern was abuzz with excitement on Saturday night. The last few months had been leading up to this evening, and the crowd was ready. The front of the house was loud and rowdy, while in the back corner, one could find a more relaxed atmosphere. This is where I set up shop, pen and paper ready for the spectacle. As the crowd quickly grew to standing room only, the first band took the stage. A smooth, bluesy bass line and a driving drum rhythm kicked off the finale of the 29th annual Dayton Band Playoffs.
The smooth rhythm that kicked off the show compliments of The Outliers, an alternative indie outfit. The band chose to take the stage in parts; John Winch [Bass] and Sam Pickard [Drums] with their bluesy rhythm, joined shortly thereafter by Jack Badgley layering in his guitar, then David Busarow filling out the sound with the lyrics.
When it comes to The Outliers, the instrumentals are the name of the game. Much focus is given to the strong, riff-driven guitar and bass. The vocals mainly exist as an embellishment, a sleepy compliment to the band’s primary sound. The band was so focused on their music that they seemed to forget the crowd. This didn’t keep them from receiving near-constant applause, especially when Badgley broke out of repeating riffs to offer a well-placed solo.
Gathering Mercury, a young pop-punk/pop-rock group, took the stage next. This band provided a much louder contrast to The Outliers. Gathering Mercury spared no time with a build up, kicking right in to full gear with their first song. Loud, rolling drums with talented hi-hat work (courtesy of JJ Parker), a strong driving bass line from Quique Bucio, and chord-heavy overdriven guitars provided by Josh Davis got the crowd to their feet as Ashley Stacy’s strong voice led the way.
More focus was given to Davis’ guitar work, with his impressive speeding solos a change of pace from the riff-focused Outliers. Gathering Mercury peppered a few covers into their set, covering both Foo Fighter’s “Walk” and The Beatles’ “Come Together” between their original songs, always adding a power-punk-pop flavor to the tracks. About midway through their set, the band begin hitting their stride: more complex guitar-work, faster rhythms, and the members jumping around the stage having a good time.
By the time Gathering Mercury finished their set, it was nearly midnight, and the crowd had begun to wane. However, each band still had one more set to play. Unfortunately, I was unable to catch the second set of sets, but I was still able to learn one important bit of news. This was, after all, the Dayton Band Playoffs, so there must be one question on everyone’s mind: who won? Well, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present you with the name of your 2011 Dayton Battle of the Band Champions…
It was a hard-fought battle, but coming out from the rubble victorious, please congratulate The Outliers! Their brand of bluesy, riffy alt-rock led them to the hard-earned title of the best of the local scene! Although only one can come out on top, the show and playoffs were an impressive display of local talent, and further proof of the strength of Dayton’s musical offerings. Keep an ear out for both of these young local bands, as after this impressive feat, one can be sure that they’re going places!