Another battle is rising in Myrtle Beach this week. There will be bands. There will be judges. There will be a winner and $1,000 at stake.
But beyond the basic concepts that hold true in any musical competition, this first-ever Myrtle Beach Battle of the Bands will be different, according to organizers.
“I didn’t like some on the ways of other Battle of the Bands from around the area, so I just came up with the idea to do something different,” said organizer Paul McKinney, a 19-year-old University of South Carolina student who’s been booking and promoting Punk and Metal shows locally for more than two years.
He says the setup for his first-ever battle event, which kicks off Thursday, is meant to make for an event unlike some of the more “gimmicky” contest he’s seen at other locations.
The event will feature five preliminary rounds of competition, each being hosted at The Sound Hole and featuring five bands judged on crowd response and opinions from “secret” judges on technical precision, originality, entertainment value and overall professionalism. Each night a single winner will be crowned with the five winners facing off in a final round on June 30.
The official rules to the contest include no-nonsense quips such as “No lame-ass meetings to attend,” “No rip-off entry fee” and “Pithy 30-minute sets please.”
Other difference makers include letting bands use their own gear (“No ‘One Size Fits All’ backline to share!”), the inclusion of only bands within an hour of the beach and perhaps most importantly in this beach bar town — No cover songs allowed.
“No covers was a big one. We want to promote original music,” said McKinney. “Other than that bands can do basically whatever they want in their 30 minutes...as long as they don’t destroy anything.”
As a former musician himself — having performed with the Global Coolers and Laissez-Faire — it was important for McKinney to put together an event that focused on promoting musicians.
“I didn’t want to ‘use’ the bands. I felt like some of the other battles were using the bands to just get business and I wanted to create something for the bands and something that could bring together all these genres and help people hear something different or interact with a new crowd and help provide exposure,” said McKinney.
But, as can often be the case when trying to cater to the notoriously-disorganized musician crowd, there’s a fine line between organization and anarchy.
“It’s been a little hellish getting the bands together. We had great response right away through Facebook and filled all 25 spots, but then we’ve had 7 or 8 drop off. Luckily we had alternates and we’ve been basically able to fill all the spots,” said McKinney.
McKinney says he’s learning from the process and that he’s considering charging a small entry fee in the future, just to make sure bands are serious about being part of the event.
Despite any complications with bands coming and going, the field of 25 acts slated to compete stacks up to be a pretty diverse representation of the area’s underground music scene. Acts range from Punk, Metal and Hardcore to Reggae, Acoustic Rock and even Hip-Hop.
With spots in the lineup being drawn at random, there should be some hotly-contested contests in the preliminary rounds.
“I’m really looking forward to the first night for sure because I’m really not sure who will win,” he said. “Also on June 16, we’ve got Jah Harvest, Conception of Being and The Jimmy Mowery Band — which I’ve heard some really good things about them — so that should be interesting.”
And though he remains optimistic that the format he’s created will help things will run smoothly, McKinney remains realistic about the fact that whenever you involve judging in the subjective world of music, there’s bound to be some debate — and potential controversy.
“I know people are going to get mad at me,” he says.
McKinney expects that claims of misdoings will be particularly rampant if Bamboo Forest wins the opening round of competition. The band is managed by independent label Say I Won’t Records — which McKinney helps run — and just finished an east coast tour that he tagged along for.
“I’m expecting someone to complain no matter what. If Bamboo Forest wins that first night, it’ll be ‘Well Paul fixed it,’” he says. “But the way I figure I’m friends with a lot of these bands and want to support them all … I don’t care who wins.”
With not only the $1,000 grand prize, but also prizes including gift certificates for food and musical equipment, photo shoots and even a spot at next year’s Carolina Zombie Walk at stake, there should be plenty of incentive for bands to do well.
“We’ve had great support from local businesses. Almost everyone I approached got back to me or donated something,” he said. “It’s good to see people wanting to get involved in local music and it’s a great way for businesses to get their name in front of a new audience.”
That added exposure that comes from playing in front of a variety of fans, McKinney adds, is even more important for the up-and-coming bands participating in the event.
“I think we’ve really got a wide spectrum of the Myrtle Beach music scene. There’s a good majority of the local original band performing and it’s a great chance for bands and a great chance for fans to come out and see what we’ve got to offer,” he says.
For more information on the Myrtle Beach Battle of the Bands click here.
Stacking up the competition
Here’s a look at the preliminary lineup for the competition:
Thursday, June 14 (Details)
- Bamboo Forest
- Creepshow Mofo
- For Cause and Comrades
- Dirt Life
Friday, June 15 (Details)
- Old News
- Beneath the Burial (formerly Last of a Dying Breed)
- Thirst For Clarity
Saturday, June 16 (Details)
- The Jimmy Mowery Band
- Sinking The Shoreline
- Rabble N' Rebellion
- Jah Harvest
- Conception Of Being
Friday, June 22 (Details)
- From Where I Stand
- American Parts
- Chinese Fire Drill
Saturday, June 23 (Details)
- Art Official
- Below The Bassline
- Darling Waste
- DJ QP n Shamroc
Saturday, June 30
Premliminary Round Winners