Kicking off with five bands on Friday, the month-long contest culminates in the finals on March 25, with cash prizes for winners. Get the details and band lineups at Local Spins.
Music and arts manager Hunter VanKlompenberg calls The Stray’s first-ever “Battle of the Bands” a “large collaborative event that creates exposure and opportunity for local artists with a spirit of fun competition.”
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With that in mind, the Grand Rapids café and live music venue on S. Division Avenue fires up the first round of the month-long competition between young and emerging Michigan acts at 6:30 p.m. Friday (March 4).
The contest kicks off with sets by Tink & The Lost Boys, The Dead Lennies, Sebastian & The Mood, Daisybox and The Polyphonic Element, with 10 more diverse bands performing the following two Fridays. The three weekly winners will face off in the finals on March 25.
View the full roster of bands and contest judges below. Performers hail from different parts of Michigan, including Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Kalamazoo and the lakeshore.
Suffice to say, all of the participants reflect the excitement of Grand Rapids’ The Polyphonic Element, a “psychedelic groovy rock” band which released its debut EP in 2020 and just dropped its first full-length album, “Space & Time.”
“We are super pumped to play the battle of the bands, especially now that live music is coming back in full effect,” said lead singer Bradley Hartwell, noting the five-piece band plays The Pyramid Scheme on April 1 with more shows this summer.
“We’re hoping to get more involved with the summer music festival circuits this year. Just trying to get plugged back into the local music scene and play some juicy jams to get people moving and dancing again.”
Rolling out “juicy jams” is precisely the hope of band battle organizers who see this March event as a platform for up-and-coming regional artists to network, build an audience and hone their skills at The Stray, 4253 S. Division Ave.
Guitarist Zack Lawson of The Dead Lennies — which plays The Avenue in Lansing on March 12 — calls it “an excellent opportunity to showcase our music, which is all original, and to network with other bands and just people interested in music.”
The grand prize winner will receive $300 and a Grand Rapids Dogtown Studio package that includes a photo shoot and 20 percent off a video session. Second and third place pay $100.
The 15 competitors were chosen from 31 applicants for the band battle. Bands will play 20-minute sets in the opening rounds; 45-minute sets in the finals. Admission to the all-ages Friday night shows is free.
The second round will feature Bond Girl, Shankool, Grace Theisen, Josh Garvelink and Epitones; bands battling in Round 3 will be Ficus, Whorld, Painted Friends, Low Phase and Dalmatian Stone.
Judges include SuperDre (Andrea ‘Dre’ Wallace), Elle Lively of the Michigan Music Alliance and Listening Room, Jake Rye of Social Recording Co. and John Sinkevics, publisher of Local Spins.
THE LINEUP AND SCHEDULE
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