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Battle of the Bands: Rules of Engagement

Young & Free partners up for 'Last Band Standing'

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Hosting a "battle of the bands" can be as tricky and frustrating as actually entering and playing one. They're not easy to pull off. Fortunately, with the backing of Young & Free S.C. (South Carolina Federal Credit Union's new forum and educational outlet for young adults), the City Paper has a winner in the works.

My memories of participating in various "battle of the bands" events over the last 15 years are subliminally (and perhaps intentionally) blurred. I've done them both as a drummer in whatever garage band I was in at the time and as a so-called "celebrity judge." More times than not, it was a drag. Even with decent planning and wonderful intentions, such multiple-act events can be a major pain in the ass for everyone involved.

For the fans in attendance and the musicians themselves, the least organized battle of the bands events can sometimes be a waste of time and effort. The worst ones are replete with shaky scoring systems, confusing rules, inattentive judges, and lengthy delays between sets.

While some band battles falter, the good ones succeed in allowing young bands an opportunity to earn recognition, make an impression, and even win a cool prize — within an exciting setting with more than a few scenester hotshots in attendance.

Billed as "Last Band Standing," Young & Free S.C. and the City Paper are determined to avoid the typical muck and deliver a fair and cool contest. The engagement is solid for Wed. Oct. 7 at the Wild Wing Cafe in Mt. Pleasant. The rules and score sheets are specific. The top band wins $1,000 in cash and a slot at ShineFest.

Last Band Standing is open to amateur, up-and-coming S.C.-based acts, so those bands or songwriters in town with a major-label recording contract may not enter. Entries must include the band's contact information, lineup of bandmembers, bio, high-res promo photo, two songs. Entries must be received by midnight on Mon. Sept. 7 to qualify.

Five finalists will be selected by online votes. The public will be able to vote online at the Young & Free homepage (youngfreesc.com) between Sept. 9-15 to determine who will reach the finals. They'll perform in front of panel of judges and a live audinece at the live competition.

Each finalist must play three songs on stage at the Wild Wing, and each set will last no longer than 20 minutes. The finalists chosen must be available to perform on Wed. Oct. 7 between the hours of 7 p.m. and midnight (no time slots are guaranteed). A backline will be provided. It'll be the band's responsibility to set up its gear and be ready to perform within the allotted time (15-20 minutes between sets). Any band going over the 20-minute limit may be disqualified or powered off.

A panel of judges will score each performance based on five categories, including stage presence, singing, technique, crowd interaction, and musical originality. The judge's score sheets will be published as well.

The chance to feature, critique, connect with, and reward five up-and-coming local bands at a cool showcase like this is one I'm glad to take. I'm willing to bet the experience will eclipse all other blurry band battle memories in my head.

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