Fort Mill Times

CRANKING IT UP: Battle of the bands

David Liotta of Contraband gets into a solo at last week's battle of the bands.
David Liotta of Contraband gets into a solo at last week's battle of the bands.

The auditorium at Nation Ford High School was rocked.

Six groups of musicians from the school took part in the annual battle of the bands, and the result was six very eclectic and entertaining sets. Initially scheduled for Rivalry Week, the show was held Dec. 9.

"We were looking for more variety. Sometimes all the bands just scream at you," said student council advisor Lynn Marsh, who helped organize the event. "We wanted to play for the masses instead."

Each of the six bands played for 15 minutes during the event, which was sponsored by the school's student council and raised money for the Carolina Raptor Center in Charlotte.

The school's mascot, Aragorn, a real falcon, is housed in the raptor center because of an injured wing, Marsh said.

"There is no prize money. We just want to show our talent, have fun and entertain people," Marsh said. "The proceeds from tonight will go towards the raptor center. They are trying to build new aviaries to rehab injured birds."

Marsh said the school's goal is to raise $10,000 for the center this year through student council- sponsored events. Students paid $1 to get into the show, which featured the finalists from a 13-group tryout earlier in the year. Although there were a few audio difficulties, many of the musicians stole the crowd's attention, including sophomore David Liotta, whose bursting, enthusiastic guitar playing across and even off the stage brought the audience to its feet.

"We want to play together as long as we can stay together," Liotta said about his group, Contraband.

Liotta said his band has been playing together for about three years and hopes to record. Other groups took part in the competition just to have fun.

"Our goal is to play small, school-based functions for the rest of our career," said Jake Given, the bass player in his group, Electric Blues Theatre. "Just kidding. It's really to make Rory Masterson (the band's lead guitarist and vocalist) look like a star."

At the end of the night, the winner of the competition, which was chosen by a panel of three teachers from the school, was a diverse quintet called The Matt Bailey Experience.

"There were about three bands that were just phenomenal," said world geography teacher Brenden Wright, one of the judges. "The last band (Through Porchlight), we thought they were great, too."

Wright said the rhythm sections in all the groups especially impressed the panel.

"The most well played instrument all night was the drums, across the board," he said.

Wright said The Matt Bailey Experience was chosen as the winner because of the variety in their choice of songs (which included selections from bands ranging from Outkast to Oasis) and the band members' versatility with different instruments.

The group's performance included guitars, drums, bass, piano, maracas and a djembe, which is an African hand drum.

"We were going to try and do some Indian flutes but the guitars were too loud," said Tommy Werner, who played guitar and piano during the group's set.

"I guess all of us wanted to do something different. We have a lot of different personalities so we tried to mix it up."

Werner said many of the band members are graduating next year, but the group still plans to perform in public at least until then.

"We'll play the high school talent show in May, and the Caffeine Scene. Spring concerts are big," he said.

Most band members agreed that at this point in their musical careers, the best part of being in their groups was to enjoy playing music together.

"It's pretty cool," said Matt Bailey Experience guitarist Zack White. "It's a lot of fun. It takes a lot of work, but it's a good time."