Throwdown at the Showdown

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By Michael Diggin

By Michael Diggin

The Showcase Showdown went down on March 20 at the Showcase Theatre in Corona.The Showdown is a local battle of the bands featuring a wide range of unsigned talent from all over Southern California. There are a series of qualifying showdowns, and subsequent contests until one overall winner is declared.It is hosted by the Showcase Theatre, which bills itself as the best all-ages venue in Southern California. It is arguably the best venue of any kind in the immediate area ever since the Barn closed down.The Showcase is set up with a normal viewing area, a railed off pitting area right in front of the stage and a balcony with a merchandise table. There is also a snack bar for those who need to grab a bite or rehydrate and some arcade games in the back to kill some time between sets.This particular “Showdown” was a qualifier and featured 10 unsigned bands competing for the top spot.David Wong went up first. He had just himself and a guitar, and he acquitted himself pretty well with an indie sound and some decent songs.The next act to play was Los Airline Hijackers. They had a fast skate punk style with yelled lyrics and short songs. They had a pretty good sound and were able to drum up the first mosh pit of the night.Serpent Underground was next on the bill and they pulled out the death metal and rocked it. The lead singer played a synthesizer, and they had some intriguing guitar effects.Antagen came out next with some hardcore punk, complete with breakdowns. They got the crowd moving with someone pulling off some passable crowd-surfing on a crowd of maybe 15 people.After that Distrawt came straight out of the high desert with some melodic hardcore. The music wasn’t bad, but the musicianship could have used some work.The next band to take the stage was Better Luck Next Time. They were the best act of the night with great vocals, good playing that was nice and tight and good songs. The sound was fast melodic punk and it was played well.The band members are Brian on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Fuzzo on bass, Danny on lead guitar and Chris on drums.They call the Santa Monica/Burbank area home, and this was only their 5th or 6th show, according to lead singer Brian. He said they are trying to “bring it back” to a more melodic sound, and he cites some of their influences as The Ataris, MXPX, NOFX and Homegrown.Drown This Heart made the following appearance, and it played some straight hardcore with screaming vocals. It was another good act with good musicians and a nice sound. Its set even inspired some hardcore dancing, which looks like fighting with an imaginary opponent, throwing punches and jumping spin kicks in time with the music.Then The Posture took its place on deck. This group had a garage rock sound kind of reminiscent of The Vines, but with an experimental edge to it and lots of intentional feedback. The vocals and the playing weren’t all that great, but the band did have a unique sound.The Heart of Every City was the 9th band to play. It had a typical screamo sound, but it was played very well. The music was enjoyable and the screaming had a very good timbre to it, sounding like an angry puma’s yowl.Last but not least was Laid. It had a very hard gritty punk sound to them, although there was have a slow song in the set. Laid even broke out a political punk song, introducing it with “this is our big f-you to G.W.” The vocals could use work, but the lead singer did have personality.The Showcase Showdown showed the range of musical styles and musical talent available through local unsigned bands. There is an astounding variety of music in the Riverside scene. Flying under the radar can be quite an aural trip.

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