Monday, February 12, 2007

Showdown to SLAMMys '07 Review

MUSIC This year, the ultimate winner of City Weekly’s annual Showdown battle o’ the bands (for an expense-paid trip to Austin’s South by Southwest Music Conference in March) was chosen strictly by The People—no judges, just a popular audience vote at The Depot on Saturday, Feb. 10. We get complaints every year about judges’ decisions; we’ve already had a couple about the crowd’s. Just can’t win.

Neither can the first band of the evening—it’s a perennially tough slot, being the lead-off. Alternative rock quartet Medicine Circus, who’ve made the Showdown rounds in years past, were just happy to be at the finals; singer-guitarist Christopher Stearman expressed his gratitude between nearly every song, and even brought flowers for the other three acts of the night. Medicine Circus rocked through their guitar-heavy set (including a Stone Temple Pilots cover) for a still-arriving audience and the faithful who’d gotten there early, proudly displaying their MC apparel. They were vocal, but the majority was waiting for …

St. Boheme (pictured above), a Logan band of facial-hair enthusiasts who’d apparently brought most of northern Utah with them. The foursome, all acoustic instruments and ‘40s ragamuffin threads, came across as a collegiate Soggy Bottom Boys or Devotchka without the rainbow of ethnic influences. For such a new group (three months old, they say), St. Boheme know how to put on an impassioned show and work a crowd—and it didn’t hurt that each song was more tuneful and memorable than the last. They were the quietest band of the night (probably the quietest band to ever make it to the Showdown Finals), but St. B easily had the loudest fans. Audience vote seemed like an easy call, until the next guy showed up … (Bill Frost)

While widely billed as the “British Mormon Rapper,” Alex Boye is rather a funk/R&B/soul crooner with the smooth-talking skills of a motivational speaker. Research confirmed that he does in fact empower people for a living, which helps explain his ability to quickly woo a diverse crowd. Even potentially alienating shout-outs to his bishop and victims of a tragic weekend car accident didn’t slow his mighty groove. Boye isn’t doing anything particularly new, but he appeals to a broad audience and since this contest is decided by popular vote …

The Rubes, who typically work hard for the money but not for cool points, did their best to bust all the right moves. Rather than unleash a fresh batch of tunes with complex arrangements, they stuck to upbeat basics designed for sweat-drenched dance revolutions. But the fourth slot is often as damning as the first and downtown’s retro rockers (whose drummer is my boyfriend, and no, I didn’t rig this event) ran an uphill race to the finish.

It seemed no amount of pumped-up jams could offset the sheer physical force of St. Boheme’s loyal fans (seriously, major props to those who made the trip to SLC three times in one week to give their hometown heroes a small, but crucial, advantage). It’s not clear, however, if the St. B posse will pony up the bucks for airfare, hotels, festival badges and other expenses necessary to accompany the Loganites to Austin.

Yes, in case you haven’t figured it out by now, St. Boheme won, followed closely by Alex Boye, The Rubes and Medicine Circus. I’m personally looking forward to spending some quality SXSW time in Texas with the optimistic newbies. They have a lot of promise and with a few intense experiences on 6th Street, there’s no reason they won’t return with the chops necessary to reap future success—with or without strength in numbers. (Jamie Gadette)

City Weekly's Salt Lake Area Music & More issue hits the streets on Thursday, Feb. 15.

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