Battling Tops

BATTLE OF THE BANDS (Preliminary Round #4) featuring FLASH IN A PAN, SOUL PHLEGM, DEF-KITTIE BLINDOGG, SAPWOODS: 9/25/2014 @ Iowa City Yacht Club (Iowa City, IA)

The Yacht Club held their final preliminary round of a “Battle of the Bands” contest.

Flash in a Pan: They’re a quartet with bluegrass instrumentation (fiddle, banjo, upright bass and acoustic guitar), but they typically don’t play in a traditional bluegrass style. In addition to some original tunes, they managed to cover The Strokes, Modest Mouse, Wu-Tang Clan and the Russian folk song “Korobeiniki“.

Overall I found the group entertaining. They had good group musicianship and used some intelligent arrangements, but they did occasionally struggle with little details, such as how to end a song together.

Soul Phlegm: I’d categorize them in the blues/jam genres, although one song had an R&B-type groove going for it. The music reminded me a bit of Blues Traveler (the singer also plays some harmonica).

Soul Phlegm won their preliminary round and will play in the finals on October 25th, so I’ll hold off from stating any opinions on the group at this time (don’t want to sway you, next month’s potential judges, one way or the other!). I will say this, however: The lyrics in one song sounded like, “Payin’ to the grave / Rubbin’ them rubbin’ them cinemas”. I’m pretty sure these weren’t the actual words but, if they are, then I have no idea what they mean. The group mentioned they’re planning to release an EP at the end of the year.

Def-Kittie BlinDogg: A rock quartet (two guitars, bass and drums). I enjoyed this group overall. They mostly played original rock songs (and a ballad called “Unclogging Sinks”), and the group seemed to be having a good time doing their thing. The guitarists’ vocals blend well together. The bassist switched styles well, from traditional rock to happy bass lines to a good groove to accompany the best rap performance of the night (courtesy of the lead guitarist).

Sapwoods: Although the group took the stage at 12:30 AM, a crowd did stick around to hear them. Both guitars could be heard in the mix, which is always a good thing. The group recently parted ways with their drummer, which noticeably changed the sound and style of some tunes (“Perdition” was a little on the fast side, but “Serve You Right” was played in a mature style that matched the studio recording). The highlight of the set (and, in my opinion, the entire night), though, was “Vanish Like the Night”. Even though the band didn’t win the first round of the contest, I think singer Justin Swafford would’ve won a contest for “best hat”.

So there you have it! As I wrote earlier, the final Battle of the Bands show takes place on Saturday, October 25th (again at the Yacht Club with a $5 cover, 19+). In addition to Soul Phlegm, you can catch performances by Velcro Moxie, Flannel Season, B-Star and Surrounded by Giants.

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