Ventura county bands are storming their social networks in a self-promoting frenzy with hopes of earning a coveted spot on the 2010 Vans Warped Tour, the annual national touring music and extreme sports festival to be held June 27 at Seaside Park in Ventura. The Ernie Ball Vans Warped Tour Battle of the Bands, a sort of “virtual” battle taking place at www.battleofthe bands.com, and voted on by the public, allows bands to upload music and compete for votes against other local bands for a slot on the Ernie Ball Stage at any of the 43 tour dates around the country.
Some of the Ventura county bands competing include End Transmission, Reluctant Hero, Sound the Sky, The Generator, The Grittys, The Braces, Graveslut, A.G.P. and Fall of Babylon. They are all battling at this moment against more than 160 bands from all over Southern California. A panel of industry pros will choose only four from the top 100 highest-voted artists to perform live on the Ernie Ball Stage at the Warped Tour in Ventura for thousands of new ears. If you’re a band that is serious about expanding your fanbase, you probably just wet your pants. But voting also carries an incentive for fans, who, after signing up (yeah, you have to sign up, but it’s free, and they only ask for your name, age and e-mail) can vote once per band, per day, from a computer, and each vote cast is an entry to win a brand new, custom-designed Ernie Ball Music Man guitar. The more you vote, the better the chances are that 1. a Ventura County band will get some major exposure and rain down its future successes on you, who helped them get there, in the form of flattery, favors or cash, and 2. you will win a badass prize (look it up, it’s a sweet guitar).
Last weekend saw noteworthy performances by local artists, including Crippled Puppies, the picturesque name for the music by singer-guitarist Amelia Ralston Okabayashi. Its debut performance as a three-piece band for the folks at Billy O’s last weekend featured whimsical indie rock songs and Okabayashi’s colorful vocal style for fans of Kate Nash and puppy noises. Oxnard punk band Stop Breathing! (Ex. Missing 23rd and The Return) opened a show at Velvet Jones in Santa Barbara for legendary SoCal skate-punk pioneers The Adolescents and Youth Brigade to packed crowds, then played the next night in Ojai for dozens of punk fans trying in vain to form circle pits without falling in puddles of tracked-in rainwater on the floor of the Ojai Valley Women’s Club. The all-ages show also included Bone Out! and Dogends. And in Camarillo, the Round 4 Rock City Studios Battle of the Bands winner was Left on Bromely, joining the ranks of Sudo and The Generator as finalists in the annual competition. Round 5, on March 12, will decide the last band to compete in the final showdown on Saturday, April 3.
My must-see recommendation for this month is without a doubt The Grandmas. Whether you’re young or old, catching a show by Camarillo’s unabashed pop rockers is something worth your extra strand of feel-good energy. Out in full swing this March with a Monday night residency at Billy O’s, a show March 20 at Rock City Studios in Camarillo, and talk of cutting together a full-length release, these dudes are extremely entertaining. With a knack for writing perhaps the catchiest songs ever, and churning out impromptu humor between numbers, seeing them live is like watching a water-noodle fight at the Laugh Factory between mid-’90s alternative rock and mid-’60s guitar pop, with shields made of three-part vocal harmony. Go and check out one of their shows, and they will certainly have you on the floor from laughing uncontrollably or dancing uncontrollably. Either way, you win.
Sounding the 805 is Ventura County’s only biweekly local music column. If you have a tip, a suggestion, a complaint, some dish or just a kind word, shoot Chris Mastrovito an e-mail.