The Sault College/Scotties Tournament of Hearts Battle of the Bands (February 3rd, 2010)
Background: Sault College, in cooperation with the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, joined forces to put on a battle of the bands on February 3rd, 2010 as part of the annual Canadian women's curling championship's festivities when Sault Ste. Marie hosted it that year. Auditions for the battle took place privately at Sault College's former bar The Outback on January 21st, 2010, after which four bands were selected to compete at the battle, which was held at The HeartStop Lounge inside The Soo Curlers Association's building on Anita Boulevard. Only bands with a Sault College student in their lineup were allowed to audition. At the battle itself, the competing bands received a half hour to play their material, after which prizes were awarded to the top 3 bands, though judging criteria wasn't explicitly posted online.
Prizes: The first place band walked away with $750 and the right to play an encore set that night, with $500 going to second place, and the third place band winning $150. Prize money was donated by the Scotties Tournament organizers, with the battle itself charging free admission.
Competitors: The four competing bands came from a wide array of genres, including folk rock standouts Blackwater, classic rockers Middle of Nowhere, indie punk quartet Nebraska Arms, and "blue Chinese metal crash punk" band Sykotyk Rampage. Notably, each of these bands (except Blackwater) had competed in the Kiss Battle of the Bands at The Canadian Nightclub two months before this event, where Nebraska Arms was the only band of the three to make the finals. Bands that auditioned for this battle were not publically revealed, adding to the audition's private nature.
Results: In the end, Blackwater pulled out the victory at this battle of the bands, with Nebraska Arms coming in a close second place. Sykotyk Rampage scored a solid third place finish, with Middle of Nowhere ending up in fourth place.
Aftermath: Blackwater continued to play numerous concerts and events in the Sault area through mid 2010, and though they're now inactive, frontman Cody McMillan still plays Blackwater material & sells their self-titled CD at his solo concerts, even holding a CD release party for it and his later solo releases in September 2012. Sykotyk Rampage remain a prolific and unique sight on the local scene, recording dozens of original new albums, and continuing to play scattered concerts in the area, while Nebraska Arms and Middle of Nowhere both quietly went inactive later on in 2010.
Some Notable Performers' Newer Bands (Metal/hard rock in italics):
Aggressive Acoustic (Brian Cattapan from Sykotyk Rampage; Based out of Sudbury)
The Business Suit Trappers (Guy Thiffault & Adam Sauve from Nebraska Arms)
Cody McMillan (Cody McMillan from Blackwater; Based out of Toronto)
Fusion (Lino D'Orazio from Middle of Nowhere)
The Mark Rand Band (Guy Thiffault & Dave Prendergast from Nebraska Arms)
The Moves (Cody McMillan & Dave Pihlaja from Blackwater)
Northwest (Wayne Watkins from Nebraska Arms)
The Small Town Rivals (Wayne Watkins from Nebraska Arms)
The Soft Shoe Shufflers (Cody McMillan & Dave Pihlaja from Blackwater)
The Strange Coyotes (James Watterworth from Blackwater)
- This battle of the bands was notable for it's high production values compared to other recent battles in the Sault area. This was especially evident by the presence of giant video screens on each side of the stage, which shown professionally filmed footage of each band's set as it happened. The bands received some of their footage from their sets after the fact, which Sykotyk Rampage edited to create some new music videos on their YouTube channel.
- Sykotyk Rampage put in the extra effort to drum up crowd support at this battle, including making many posters for fans to hold up in the crowd, and giving away free t-shirts in paper bags that lined the stage during their song "Bag On Your Face".
- With their second place finish, Nebraska Arms members Wayne Watkins & Adam Sauve ensured that they would either make the finals or win an award at a local battle of the bands in three consecutive years. They previously made the finals of the Skid Row Battle in March 2008 (as members of The Blockade), and the finals of the Kiss Battle with Nebraska Arms in December 2009, with the three battles taking place within a 2 year span.
- Sykotyk Rampage returned to another local battle of the bands, this time hosted by the Sault Humane Society, on April 20th, 2012 at The Grand Theater. However, they didn't compete at the event, serving instead as an opening band. Cody McMillan and Dave Pihlaja from Blackwater were scheduled to compete at the same battle with their newer blues rock band The Moves, but they quietly pulled out of the event due to external commitments.
- Sykotyk Rampage (now featuring ex-The Fury bassist Tony Briglio in place of Brian Cattapan) returned to competing at a battle of the bands at April 2013's Rockstar Bar Battle of the Bands, though they did not see the same success, finishing in third out of three bands in their April 17th semifinal, and missing the next week's final round.
- Nebraska Arms bassist Wayne Watkins repeated his second place finish at Viva La Battle at The Canadian Nightclub on November 13th, 2013, when he scored another runner-up placement with his newer indie/punk quintet Northwest, albeit as their singer & guitarist.
Sykotyk Rampage video from The Sault Metal Scene
Three Sykotyk Rampage videos from their YouTube channel
The Facebook event page for the battle auditions
The Facebook event page for the battle itself
Pre-audition coverage from The Sault Star
We're almost done this series' initial run, as next Friday's profile of the Downtown Showdown battle from May 2010 will close up the seven weeks of looks back at recent battles of the bands! Then, of course, the Sault Humane Society Battle rocks The Grand Theater on April 20th, so there's lots of band battling action to come, so stay tuned for all of that, and keep an eye out later today or early tomorrow for our Ypres Metal Fest preview and more news! Thanks everyone!