Let the Battle Begin

Downtown Sound Version 2.0 Kicks Off September 22


IT’S GO TIME: As we put the final touches on our ever-growing bands listings, our buddies over at New Noise Santa Barbara are hard at work, gearing up for this year’s second annual Downtown Sound battle of the bands. Since partnering up with the New Noise folks last year, our little music competition has grown to new heights. And this year it’s only getting bigger. Starting on Thursday, September 22, at independent.com, music fans will have seven days to log on and place their votes for the act they believe to be the best on the Central Coast. Then, on Thursday, September 30, we tabulate the results and announce the top six winners of the first round of Downtown Sound. (As an added twist, this year Indy editors are stacking the deck and hand-selecting two bands to play the semi-finals, regardless of their online clout.)

Being music appreciators first and foremost, we don’t just want to watch some online vote-off — we want to rock. So, at Velvet Jones on Tuesday, October 11, and at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club on Wednesday, October 12, our top six online winners (and two Indy picks) will be broken down into two teams of four and forced to show us what they’re worth. These live, miked bouts will give each semi-finalist a chance to get onstage and shred for a live audience of ballot holders. And after each night is said and done, we’ll count the votes and determine who will move on to the Downtown Sound finals.

Then, on Thursday, October 20, the top two bands from each semi-final round will take to SOhO for a live music battle like no other. And at the end of it all, we’ll announce 2011’s Downtown Sound winner. If last year’s finalists (Dante Elephante, The Goodland, Lonesome Dub, and champs Snakefist) are any indication of what’s to come, I suggest staying tuned.

Of course, a battle of the bands is only as good as its prizes, and this year we’re upping the ante with a smorgasbord of loot. The Downtown Sound champion will have a choice between two killer winnings. The first is a fully loaded prize pack, which includes gear from Ernie Ball and Instrumental Music and a boatload of sweet shwag (think clothes, professional photos, and gift certificates). The second is a legit one-album recording deal with Santa Barbara’s own Leroy Records, which includes professional studio time, mixing, mastering, art direction, and printing of the winner’s next CD. And the prize that the champion rejects? It gets passed on to the runner-up—which means that two acts walk away winners. While we wait for this party to start, I suggest heading over to independent.com/bands and checking out the sights, sounds, and stories your fellow Santa Barbarans have to offer. You never know, you might just stumble upon the next big thing.

THIS WEEK IN MUSIC: As for pre-battle live music action, this week has no shortage of highlights. On Monday, September 12, Eisley brings their all-in-the-family indie pop to SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) in support of their latest full-length, The Valley. Since these siblings (and a cousin) stormed the music scene back in the early 2000s, they’ve worked as the hip, indie answer to those Hanson kids. Nowadays, though, the Eisley gang is all grown up and penning big harmony- and piano-filled ballads that are part Vanessa Carlton contemporary, part Watson Twins etherealness. The all-ages show starts at 8:30 p.m. Call 962-7776 or visit clubmercy.com for tickets.

Also this week, S.B. welcomes back Katchafire, who play SOhO on Sunday, September 11, with openers White Elephant and Elan Atias. In terms of reggae shows, this one is the triple threat of the summer. Katchafire’s live act is a sultry musical celebration, White Elephant brings the rock, and Atias is all soul, channeling Bob to scary-good perfection. The show starts at 9 p.m. Visit sohosb.com for info.


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