The 2013 Battle of the Bands began after a spectacular display of fireworks that signified the first night of the Sackville Fall Fair. The Battle, which in actuality was not especially competitive, featured three local bands: Tantrum Art, Rocket Culture, and Max Grizzly & the Entertainment. While attendance fluctuated throughout the evening, the event was well attended and well supplemented by its beer tent and the unaffiliated food trucks nearby. Although Max Grizzly & The Entertainment were the official winners by applause, the professional sound system and light show, as well as the three energetic performances, resulted in everyone in attendance coming out a winner.
Max Grizzly & the Entertainment, the self-proclaimed “MTA House Party Favourite,” took the stage first after a brief introduction from an MC, during which it was announced that the prize for the evening’s best act would be a golden guitar. Although it was later revealed that the prize wasn’t as much a golden guitar as it was a pat on the back, the band played as though it was. Fronted by the deep-voiced Peter Halpine, who conveyed equal parts Van Morrison and Nick Cave, and Luke Trainor, of Sackville folk favourites Bolivia, on guitar, Max Grizzly were among the youngest and certainly some of the most energetic people in the tent. Highlights of their set included the inclusion of horns and an unexpected drum-and-bass song that saw the remainder of the band occupying the dance floor.
The second band to take the stage was Tantrum Art, a funk rock collective consisting of professors Frank Strain, on guitar, Steve Law, on bass, Tim Reiffenstein, on keys, as well as David Hunter, of Pickles, and Tom Hearn, a Mount A student and Pickles employee. The band played a set that was so funky, and so conducive to the sometimes-questionable light show [what does this mean?], that even Max Grizzly & the Entertainment, their opponents, were caught dancing.
The third and least local of all bands, Rocket Culture, from Moncton, put on a tremendous funk rock show that sidestepped a few of the genre’s more doubtful elements, replacing them with a few tricks from the indie rock playbook. The crowd, as well as the other bands, were noticeably responsive to Rocket Culture’s music, which may have been due in part to the continued presence of the beer tent [is this a diss at Rocket Culture?].
Although Max Grizzly & the Entertainment ended up taking home the figurative, “Ark of the Covenant”-like prize, according to Hunter, it appears the other bands are looking for a rematch. Hunter said that the rematch would most likely occur during this year’s Picklesfest in the beginning of November. Hunter said that “a bunch of shows will be [at Pickles] during the week, and the grand finale [rematch] will be at the Vogue Theatre and will hopefully be licensed.”
While he expressed gratitude that the acts could play on a stage with a setup that “bands who get paid thousands would be playing on,” it appears as if the friendly contenders already have their sights set on Picklesfest 2013.