The Dirty Nil take the year’s first Last Band Standing title
Last Thursday night, Wilf’s was packed to the brim with aspiring musicians and dedicated music lovers for A-Team’s Last Band Standing (LBS).
LBS is a four part series in which student musicians compete for $1000 and the distinction of being the “last band standing.”
This year, Silence in Stereo, Mac Attack, The Dirty Nil and Far from Rich beat out 20 other bands to perform at LBS’s first show. The night ended with the expected announcement of polished garage rockers The Dirty Nil as this year’s first winning band.
“That was my favourite show we’ve played in a while,” Kyle Fisher, the band’s drummer, told The Cord after the show, adding that the lineup at the event was particularly strong.
The first performance of the night was Silence in Stereo. Though all of the band members were quite talented, there was nothing memorable about their performance. They were a good, generic alternative rock band.
Next to hit the stage was Mac Attack. Before they even began their set, Mac Attack set their band apart by having their drummer, Mike Martineau, stand at a bongo drum rather than a typical drum kit.
Their sound was a cross between reggae and folk rock, which made for easy dancing music. The audience jumped at the opportunity to dance and was receptive to the band’s stage presence.
Overall, their performance was original, especially for a band that has only been together for a year.
However, there seemed to be a musical divide between the vocalists and guitarists, Jon Mackie and Evan Macdonald (whom the band seems to be named after) and the drummer and bassist, Martineau and Josh Nicholson. This could be because LSB was the first show in which Martineau played with the band.
Up next was The Dirty Nil. Luke Bentham, the band’s vocalist and guitarist, described their sound as “three angry young men in a garage,” whereas Fisher, the drummer, summed up their vibe in one word, “Bam!” Both descriptions pretty accurately described their high-energy, high-impact performance.
This band had the strongest stage presence and thus the strongest crowd participation.
“It’s really fun playing in front of a receptive audience,” said Bentham after the show. It was clear that he was “having a blast” on stage as he was joking around and laughing to himself.
The Dirty Nil was also impressively cohesive. That is, each band member brought something unique to the performance, which complemented the other musicians in the band; no one musician outshone another, resulting in the strongest performance of the night.
The last band to hit the stage was Far from Rich. This was a band with something to say.
“Basically we take an anti-oppression standpoint. We believe that all people should have a voice,” said vocalist and guitarist Richard Garvey.
This message was portrayed through activist lyrics about such issues as the environment, the government and war. Far from Rich aimed to be thought provoking, asking questions such as, “What good is democracy if we don’t have any ideals?”
Each of their songs was unique, ranging from folk melodies to jazz. They showed off their skill by incorporating an impressive variety of instruments into their songs from the guitar and drum to double bass, mandolin, clarinet and bongos.
Although their performance was very good, Far from Rich was not the stereotypical rock group that tends to perform in battle of the bands. This may have affected the audience’s opinion of the show and the ultimate results for Last Band Standing.
While the band enjoyed performing at LBS, Garvey was concerned with the sound quality.
“It’s a really great idea to have battle of the bands at Laurier,” said Garvey.
“But what needs to happen is [better communication]. [A-Team] didn’t communicate really clearly with the bands about what was needed, like a sound guy who can appreciate that we don’t have the typical rock sound.”
Far from Rich wasn’t the only band that commented about the sound quality and technological aspect of the show.
“There were a lot of technical difficulties,” said The Dirty Nil’s drummer Kyle Fisher. “But it all made the show something better,” he added, trying to remain positive.
Aside from the technical difficulties, the night was a great showing of student talent. After a short deliberation period in which the judges results were not unanimous, The Dirty Nil was announced to be the best band of the night.
For Garvey, the choice was wholly expected.
“Dirty Nil was loud. They were the loudest band … and that seems to be the thing that Last Band Standing is about.”
The Dirty Nil will perform again in February for the finale of Last Band Standing.