After a long Saturday at the office, I dragged myself out to the bar Fontana’s in Chinatown, curious to observe a brand new event called New York Band Draft. Although partially motivated by the fact that a couple of my friends were participating, I was intrigued, sufficiently to ignore my total exhaustion, by the premise- a collection of local musicians are selected sports-draft-style and divided into bands. Each is given a month to practice and compose two original songs, after which they compete for a variety of titles in a live performance. Furthermore, each contending group was required to learn a cover song. Last night was the climactic showdown.
Fontana’s is a large establishment, with two bars, a loft and a performance space downstairs. I descended the stairs to the basement just before the music began. I could hear a stand-up comedian, who functioned as the M.C., putting the finishing touches on his introduction. The place was packed. At least sixty people stood shoulder to shoulder, eager to hear the results of a pressure-packed month’s worth of labor. The Captains, appointed band leaders, were called to the stage. Standing in a row, they each took turns reaching into a hat and drawing a slip of paper. The first Captain pulled a blank one. No dice. Continuing on down the line, each leader drew. Blank; blank; blank… Finally, a young lady pulled a slip with an “X” drawn on it. The concert was about to begin.
Despite a handful of the performers being considerably skilled on their instruments, the original songs were generally simple- considering the time constraints, this was undoubtedly out of necessity. The Yokos went first and were apparently the best band out of the lot. Unfortunately I was taking a “smoke break” and missed their performance. From the bands I saw Murderface was one of my favorites. My expectation for their band was extremely low. You see two of my good friends were in this band and I heard they only had 2 1/2 practices over the course of a month. I started laughing when I saw the leader singer. Bradley Crosby, is a 6’4” white boy wearing a button up dress shirt with khakis color corduroy pants. He looked like a college intern who worked in the mailroom at some corporation not some guy who is a lead singer of Murderface. The orginial song was ridiculous. All I can hear him singing was mic check 1, 5, 19 16, 57. Hilarious and very entertaining, but not something that would get you the championship title. Once they started playing their cover song Sabotage by the Beastie Boys things started to look up. The crowd was at their fingertips. People were getting in to it and start to sing along and rocking out.
If there was a team spirit award it should go to Boss Fight. The moment they got on stage you can tell they were a united front. They were oozing a fun, and positive vibe. When I interviewed Jay Giacomzzo, the bass player and asked him about his experience as a whole he seemed to genuinely like his band and the band draft process. His enthusiasm was refreshing for a musician.
I wish winning was more of a focus. I didn’t feel the competitive nature and it seemed more like a musical art project. All and all it was a good night. This event has a lot of potential and it can only get bigger and better.
Brad and Adrian