The second installment of our series on the creation of ¡OtraFest!—a new music festival set to debut in Corpus Christi, Texas in September 21-23, 2018 at the House of Rock. Alt Revue has been given behind-the-scenes access into this exciting new musical venture. For this installment, we had the opportunity to attend one of the two Battle of the Bands hosted by the House of Rock, where bands vie for spots in the ¡OtraFest! lineup! We covered the show and have reviewed the sets of some great local Corpus Christi Acts! In the coming weeks, we will be arranging to interview all of the acts with this Battle of the Bands (BOB) to get better insight into their music. Anyway, check out our thoughts of the show below!
The finalists for the BOB were determined through online fan vote and the order in which the sets were determined was drawn at random, which was a great way to even the playing field (as mobilization of fans is critical when a fan vote comes into play) for a BOB scenario. We'll cover each set as it was played, so let's get to it!
Voodoo Logic is a six-piece band that features vocals coming from seemingly everywhere throughout their set, which is great. The group features Adam Stern (lead guitar); George Woods (guitar and vocals), Paul Harpel (bass guitar), Lori Ragsdale (vocals and tambourine), Mingo Rojas (vocals and tambourine), and James Gongora (drums). For most of the songs, vocals were anchored either by Ragsdale or Rojas; however, there were a couple of tracks in which Woods took the lead on vocals. Additionally, there were tracks where all three sang together, which was our favorite aspect of Voodoo Logic's vocal performance overall (we're just suckers for classic harmonies). Vocals from Ragsdale had a touch of signature vibrato throughout the set.
The band acknowledges inspiration from 70's and 80's rock music and it shows. There were times where influences of Van Halen came through both vocally and musically. This influence was particularly evident in Stern's guitar solos, which were absolutely lightning fast and blistering. We were extremely impressed with his prowess. Back to the vocals for a minute, we did enjoy when Ragsdale and Rojas would play off each other, vocally. Rojas has great range and was able to hit a great breadth of notes with ease. Bassist Paul Harpel, brought energy and great warmth to the rythm of Voodoo Logic's music. Additionally, Woods' guitar and vocals played very well off Stern and Rojas/Ragsdale respectively.
"Hiding in the Shadows,"started with a great falsetto on the track. Ragsdale was killing it vocally on this track. We also appreciated that there was a sense of "no fuss, no frills" approach to Voodoo Logic's style on this song. They came up and just commanded the stage with it. It was a classy move to dedicate the song to the loss of Aretha Franklin afterward.
We also noted a few other observations during the show. We specifically noted that Gongora is an extremely talented drummer. We were pleasantly surprised when Woods began to sing as well, as it is not often where a band features three vocalists so prominently, especially ones that work so well together. Voodoo Logic's sound may be rooted in 70's and 80's rock, but there is some funk influence there as well, as Woods entire rhythm guitar riff in their last song was a funk/soul riff and we dug it. We loved the guitar solo from Woods in the last song, which was a surprise as well.
Overall, Voodoo Logic put on a tight set of music that is full of nostalgia for 70's and 80's rock. This is a band who put on a technically sound show (something hard to find these days), and well worth your time to watch their set.
Rating - 4/5
Dogwood People stormed the stage next with a frenetic mix of alt-rock/alt-punk goodness. Dogwood people features Ryan Petty (guitar/vocals), Daniel Rangel (bass), Aaron Hanson (guitar), and Ron Petty (drums). Looking at the gear setup, we didn't notice any pedals that were being used by the group. It looked like the band was primarily using amp distortion, (which still sounded great by the way).
One of the first things we noticed was that Petty's vocal were very unique and had a good bit of range to it. Dogwood People's stage presence reminded us of Built to Spill, in that they let the music do the talking. We also noticed that Petty would often take the lead guitar role in songs.
Dogwood People played their original"Rock Bottom Blues," which is a fun track to dance to with catchy guitar riffs and leads, but is a short track overall. According to Petty, the track is about the day after a night of fun and experiencing the bottom of a hangover. Next, they performed "Zombie Dust, which the band introduced as a "song about tweakers,"featured some vocals from Petty that could have been featured on a metal track. It was just a lot of fun overall and a very in your face track. Dogwood People used a lot of modified 5th chords, but they played them extremely fast and mean with great variations and leads.
This was such a strong performance by Dogwood People and we came away extremely impressed. They are a band to keep an eye on.
Rating - 5/5
Next onstage was Forever Falling. Forever Falling are a three member pop-punk outfit from Corpus Christi that very much compare to Taking Back Sunday. The group was extremely tight musically, with fantastic drum work and bass leading the way. This was topped off with solid punk guitar work. Where Forever Falling really struggled was with vocals. There just did not seem to be the same emphasis on the vocal work that there was on the music and there were times we could hear the lead singer come out of key. The band got tighter as they performed, which made us believe that perhaps they are either young in this iteration of the band or playing new material. Additionally, we felt that the band was really in need of more featured backing vocals to help the lead singer carry the weight of vocals. This would have helped the vocals pack more of a punch when comped to the fantastic work they were doing on their instruments.
A Simple Jester:
With a crowd of supporters in tow, A Simple Jester took the stage last for the BOB. A Simple Jester features: Daniel Pena, (lead vocals), Mike Garcia, (bass/vocals), Corey Charles, (drums), and Jason Guerrero, (guitar/vocals). The band members had great flow with one another. We thought that the uniforms were an interesting touch to their music overall as it does go with the jester piece well. Their style is something different, so we were cool with it. The band's second song "Northern Lights," was comping hard for us to Silversun Pickups, especially in Pena's vocals.
Another observation we had was that some aspects of Pena's vocals reminded us of James Maynard Keenan from Tool; however, we felt that Pena might want to stay away from the hardcore screaming as his vocals seem better suited for more melodic stylings. There were a couple of points throughout where we felt that the group had either laid on chorus or reverb too thick and it took away form the intricacy of the music. On the track "Daddy Long Legs," we were not the biggest fan of some of the rhyme scheming chosen, but not a bad song by any stretch. During"Time Bomb," there were some really good harmonies featured throughout. Garcia and Guerrero absolutely shredded throughout most of the set, but particularly on the song, "Picture Frames." We were highly impressed with their skills on bass and guitar respectively.
Pena is a showman and is fantastic at getting the crowd into the set, even for people who might not be familiar with his music. He has whit and charm that is very becoming for a frontman. He should continue to use this as it works to his advantage. Overall, the band had a great set and were declared the winners of the BOB thus securing the coveted spot in the ¡OtraFest! lineup and we understand why. They play a good set and also put on an entertaining show.
Closing Thoughts: The show was great fun and we loved the cordial atmosphere between all of the bands, even though they were technically competing. We'll put it this way, this was one hell of a warm-up act for the real ¡OtraFest! If you haven't gotten your tickets already check out the info below!
Special thanks to Casey Lain and House of Rock for access to cover these stories. FMI on ¡OtraFest! and the House of Rock, visit:
FMI on Voodoo Logic, visit their Facebook @VoodoLogic361. (Voodoo Logic logo used with permission).
FMI on Dogwood People, visit their Facebook @TheDogWoodPeople.
FMI on A Simple Jester, visit their Facebook @asimplejester