Following a long, heated, and undeniably rocking Thursday, we named Saint Anne’s Place our 2011 Downtown Sound battle of the bands winner late last night at SOhO. As expected, the competition was stiff, and each of the four finalists went above and beyond to bring the energy to their short but sweet competition sets. Fittingly, the young guns of the program, Blue Suns took the stage first, exceeding my barely week-old expectations with a set of upbeat and nostalgia-drenched surf rock. Of special note was vocalist Carley Rae Powers, who dominated at the mike at every single chance she got.
Lompoc’s Saint Anne’s Place occupied the night’s second slot sweet spot, and delivered a loud and technically impressive set of psych rock that brimmed with gravely vocals and mind melting guitar solos. Little Owl provided the dance party of the evening with their jovial and percussion-rich pop productions. They also took full advantage of SOhO’s sound system, building swelling instrumental breakdowns that reverberated throughout the building beautifully. And while I was up to my elbows in ballots for the second half of Islay Street‘s lo-fi folkie night-closing set, I can say that the half I did hear struck all the right chords; quirky, earnest, and as full of heart as any of the bands on the bill.
At the end, over 400 individual votes were cast, with less than 50 ballots separating the entire four-band spread. As the winners, Saint Anne’s Place took away a guaranteed spot on the bill of this year’s New Noise Festival, an on-air “Localize It” spotlight on 92.9FM KJEE, over $5,000 worth of guitars and a year’s worth of strings from Ernie Ball, a prize pack from Instrumental Music, apparel and schwag from Arbor Collective, recording time at Playback Recording Studio, a chance to score a one-record recording contract with S.B.’s LeRoi Records, and a profile in The Santa Barbara Independent’s 2011 Santa Barbara Band Guide.
But, most importantly, the night stood as a strong and rocking testament to S.B.’s very much thriving music community. Over the course of the evening fans, family, and friends mixed and mingled with casual attendees, and across the board folks expressed how impressed they were by the quality and talent of all of the players. Equally impressive: the interest, hype, and moola raked in for the Living Room, an all-ages venue to which the night’s proceeds went to reopening.
Personally speaking, I couldn’t be prouder to have been a part of it all. And I couldn’t be more amped for both the New Noise Digital Music Conference and Festival and the Indy‘s upcoming S.B. Bands Issue, both of which see the light of day on Thursday, November 3. ‘Til then, congrats and keep rocking, guys!