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LIVE REVIEW: March Madness Battle of the Bands (Semi-Finals)

Whisperjets take flight at the Tavern

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March Madness Battle of the Bands (Semi-Finals)
Sat. March 28
Village Tavern

After four weekends' worth of battle, the final premilminary rounds of this year's March Madness Battle of the Bands concluded last weekend with two semi-finals at the Tavern.

On Friday, Bodies Full of Magic, Stonehouse, and TenFifty played a set apiece for the judges (club staffers and band scene characters). TenFifty came out on top.

On Saturday, the semis continued with teenaged blues-rock quartet Cole Train, young alt-rock band the Whisperjets, and Myrtle Beach alt-metal band the Izm.

Opening with a quick reworking of Herbie Hancock's "Chameleon" and a soulful cover of Buddy Miles' "Them Changes," Cole Train was off to a strong start in the first set of the night. Singer-guitarist "Stone Cold" Sarah Cole kept a cool, almost indifferent facial expression and a deadpan delivery during the soulful set of blues and rock. Cole and lead guitarist Nate Merli traded licks on Hendrix's "Axis Bold as Love," Bill Wither's "Use Me," Zep's "I Can't Quit You, Baby," and other deep rock and soul cuts. There were moments of great technical brilliance, and a few choppy grooves as well.

Straight out of Wando High School, the Whisperjets (pictured) picked up the pace with a brassy set of melodic pop-rock, peppered by the sharp accents of trumpeter Ben Donner and trombonist Daniel Imbolz. They were surprisingly tight and even, with lead singer/guitarist Corey Bargeloh sounding more assertive and confident than in previous outings. While the quintet played tons of original stuff from its new EP Midnight Shift, the cover of Neutral Milk Hotel's "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" was a nice touch.

Led by charismatic vocalist Jaesen Moore, the Izm cranked up a funky, more metallic style of rock in a rousing final set. From the sound of Moore's righteous delivery and spiritualized lyrics, some form of "Christian rock" might be the case with this band. Super-tight and dynamic, they won enough points from Saturday's judges to come out on top.

TenFifty, the Izm, and "wild card" Cole Train proceed to the final round on Sat. April 11 at the Tavern. Stay tuned. (www.thevillagetavern.info) —T. Ballard Lesemann

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