Brace yourself for impact!
were the words rapper Cole shouted to the crowd, backed by the
beat of local band Galvanized Minds. And man, was he ever right! As
I pulled into the parking lot of the Longhouse Restaurant Tuesday
night, I could not believe my eyes.
“Brace yourself for impact!” were the words rapper Cole shouted to the crowd, backed by the beat of local band Galvanized Minds. And man, was he ever right! As I pulled into the parking lot of the Longhouse Restaurant Tuesday night, I could not believe my eyes. The parking lot was completely full. More than 100 cars packed the lot, and more lined the other side of the road.
What could be going on? Was some famous performer headlining at the restaurant? As I made my way inside, I must say I have never seen anything like it on a week night in Gilroy, ever. The crowd had turned out for the third night of competition in Gilroy’s Battle of the Bands.
“The music was scheduled to go from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Waves of 100 to 150 people appeared throughout the night,” said Danny Garcia, owner of local recording Studio 222, and co-founder of the event.
Studio 222 is a collaborative effort of eight different musicians/bands who promote and support the growth of the local rock and alternative music scene.
As I wandered through the crowd, randomly asking people why they were out so late on a Tuesday, James Myrick said, “This is Gilroy. There’s nothing else going on. It’s a great experience.”
“Four bands play each Tuesday night during August,” Andy Reid said, drummer for the band Refuse to Remain. “This week, the judges will choose the top three.”
The thing that struck me most was that even though more than one hundred 20-somethings were rocking out (and many were drinking alcohol), the scene was wrapped in an ambiance of goodwill. The crowd was cool, groovin’ and dancing to everything from reggae to heavy metal to Maroon 5-style pop and alternative rock.
Basking in the opportunity to be part of the happening, I felt as if I had fallen down the rabbit hole into a 60’s time warp of peace and love. Only now the kids are dread-locked, tattooed, pierced, black fingernailed, mohawked, and very obviously happy death metal music fans.
They just seemed grateful to be part of the experience and hungry for the chance to be part of a live music scene featuring so many great local bands. Not one negative incident has occurred in four weeks of packed concerts.
“We’ve gotten a really big response, and we’re really jazzed! It’s just kids wanting to have a good time. We’ve got hundreds of rock fans here in Gilroy,” J. J. Hawg said, aka “Papa Hawg.” His band is one of the competitors.
Hawg plays for many benefits, including the Relay for Life, which raises money to fight cancer; his band has also played for the prom at Gateway Center for the handicapped in Gilroy.
“I’ve been given so much by this community; I am able to make a living with my music,” Hawg said. “Sometimes it’s important to give back.”
Five judges from Studio 222 will review the bands and listen to tracks recorded live each Tuesday night to rank the bands from one to a hundred points in categories of performance, audience reaction, and technicality.
“We’ll determine who rocked the house,” Garcia said. “Who can really play a show and handle the audience.” The top winner receives between $600-$1000, as well as 16 hours of studio recording time. Second and third place prizes include four hours of recording time, long enough to make a demo.
Rapper Cole had an inside connection with the Longhouse, which was looking for a way to increase business and gave its blessing to the Battle of the Bands idea. Now Tuesday night is the busiest night of the entire week.
“There is more and more music happening locally,” Cole said, “We need to really come out and support it.”
“I can’t believe it,” Garcia kept saying of the turnout. “We’re just astonished and blown away! We don’t have any sponsors; we’re straight up just two guys with an idea who made a couple of posters. This competition has outdone any show this whole year in Gilroy. We hope we can build on this and keep the Gilroy music scene growing.”
When I finally left at 1:20 a.m., the crowd was still going strong.
Twenty-one bands auditioned for Gilroy’s Battle of the Bands. Eleven made the cut: Refuse to Remain, Big Wood, JJ Hawg, Gospel of Fire, Akujin, The Cave Dwellers, Wicked Jupiter, The Weathermen, Otoño, Ban And A Guitar, and Just Chill. Three bands with Studio 222 played as headliners: Five Minutes to Freedom, The Relief, and Galvanized Minds.
Battle of the Bands Final
When: Tuesday, Aug 24, 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Where: The Longhouse, 8195 Monterey St., Gilroy