Music from some of Kitsap County’s most talented bands filled William D. Harvey Theatre last Saturday for the Kitsap County Battle of the Bands finale.
“It was a total success and everything went great, better than we ever expected,” organizer Frank Portello said.
Roughly 270 people filled the 280-seat auditorium at Olympic College in Bremerton.
Six bands ranging in all different genres of music from punk to country played for their chance to win $4,000. Or in the case of the 18-and-under bands, a $4,000 scholarship.
Hitting the stage first, and also the first winner of the night in the 18-and-under category was Eleventy One. The young rock group features Charlie Near on vocals and lead guitar, Becca Rinks on bass and Xander St. Carrell on drums.
“We didn’t go in expecting to win. We were just playing to play and show off all the hard work we have put into our music,” St. Carrell said.
Eleventy One’s competition was the punk band Sailing Camp, which had quite the fan base at the show and proved that a punk show is nothing without an attempt at creating a mosh pit.
“That came as a complete surprise to us and we did not condone it,” Portello said.
Sailing Camp comprises Ryan Collins on guitar, Amelia Gailbreath on vocals and guitar, Ethyl Fish on drums and Zachary Gurrola on bass.
Between each set, the night’s host, Josh Farley, interviewed the judges and hosted a Kitsap-centric trivia game where audiences could win prizes from the event sponsor Loan Depot, such as bags, shirts, water bottles, and chapstick.
The judges of the competition were Joey Graham of Essential Audio Group; Louis Pichler, the technical director at Gracepoint Church; Mike Jackson of the Manette Saloon; Dave Lambert of the Slippery Pig Brewery; and Sunny Saunders of Sunny Jack Events.
Each judge has had their hands in the music industry in one facet or another. For example, Mike Jackson is still playing music in a band called No More Sons.
“I love seeing all these young people playing bass. You don’t see that too often,” Jackson said.
Hitting the stage first for the 18-and-over category was alternative rock group Suite Clarity, which would go on to be the runner-up band.
“I thought it was a great experience. We got to meet a lot of people backstage and getting to play on a big stage like that was lots of fun to run around on,” lead singer McKinzie Malcolm said.
“Even though it was a battle, it was also a chance to build up the Kitsap music community which was really cool to be part of,” added guitarist Anthony Corso.
Suite Clarity closed out its set with a cover of Heart’s “Barracuda,” which got the audience to sing along as best they could.
The band is made up of brothers Anthony and Aaron Corso on guitar and drums, respectively, Trey Young on guitar and McKinzie Malcolm on vocals.
Next on the stage and the winner of the competition was Skinny Blue, a blues-rock group lead by Thys Wallwork, with Kevin Blackwood on drums and Collin Ray on bass. The band puts a modern spin on blues rock and has played over 300 shows.
“Knowing this was Loan Depot’s first time putting on an event like this, I was amazed at how smooth it went,” Wallwork said.
Skinny Blue plans on using its winnings to get itself out in front of new audiences outside Kitsap County as well as eventually use some of it to get back in the studio to record its third album.
The band with by far the largest fan base of the night was OneSki, a pop-punk group influenced by bands like Weezer, Panic! At the Disco and Green Day.
Closing the show was the country band, Joel Gibson Jr. & The Hired Guns who played a couple of covers, as well as one of its hits “PNW (Hoodies & Romeos)” a country song with a Northwest spin to it that had everyone cheering.
“We want to turn this into an annual thing and are starting to discuss the schedule for 2020 and are looking for more sponsors to grow the event,” Portello said.