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CIVL’s summer Battle kicks off with a bang

AfterMath’s building has hosted CIVL concerts in past years, but this series represents the culmination of a longer coordination that seeks to benefit the radio station’s community reach as well as exposure for local musical acts.

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By Michael Scoular and Joe Johnson (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: May 22, 2013

Merciful Angel, first week winners in CIVL’s Battle of the Bands

Saturday evenings this summer semester on UFV’s Abbotsford campus will be soundtracked by CIVL’s first Battle of the Bands, held at AfterMath.

AfterMath’s building has hosted CIVL concerts in past years, but this series represents the culmination of a longer coordination that seeks to benefit the radio station’s community reach as well as exposure for local musical acts.

“I’ve always wanted to do this idea. It’s been a personal goal of mine to put something like this together,” said CIVL station manager Aaron Levy.

Held this year at the Abbotsford campus due to CIVL’s location, Levy mentioned the possibility of future expansion to Chilliwack depending on the success of the event. The event’s reach is meant to be “Fraser Valley wide, from Surrey to Hope,” Levy noted, “to bring everybody together.”

Connecting the separated campuses of UFV, the relatively young CIVL, and various extremely different BC music scenes is a tall order, but for first year things have turned out well. “We got a really great representation of the Valley: People from Maple Ridge, people from Mission, we got people applying from the Sunshine Coast, from Victoria, from Saanich,” said Levy. “We are having bands in the Battle of the Bands that didn’t have any relationship with us beforehand, which is exactly what we wanted, to build more bridges, so to speak, in the community.”

Opening night showed this off, with three bands sharing nothing in level of experience, style, origin or loudness, but all representing a region of sound and location within the spectrum of what the Fraser Valley has to offer in music.

Kicking things off was 7th Avenue, a five member rock and roll group. Their song titles (“Cheap Cigars,” “Rock My World”) suggested standard genre tropes, but the band stood out through audience interaction and the way lyrics provided a structure for lead guitarist Clayton Burch’s wailing solos. Awakening in the first slot, 7th Avenue was a picture of an experienced band, having gone through regroupings and lineup changes, and having shifted between covers and original material over their near-decade span under the 7th Avenue name. While a contrast to the usual college play idea of a band, their goals were still the same.

“It’s good exposure,” they agreed after the set. “It’s a great way to network with other musicians, let our music be heard.”

An inverse next took to the stage with Yes Men Jr. who classify their music in the genre “we’re not afraid to do stupid shit.”

This statement was borne out by the provocation of parody-bad angst-shouted lyrics over spare drumpad beats and occasional laptop samples. The high school band’s time together can be measured in months, but their mixture of alienating and engaging (entering the audience, building jokes into their repetitive setlist) was assured in its use of irony, provided another lens into current music, albeit the overblended post-internet kind.

Photo Courtesy CIVL

The judged winner of the night, Merciful Angel (possible namechange pending) has been together four years. Humbly describing their origins as simply “the four of us got together,” the thrash-metal has grown to the point where they said the band “has played pretty consistently for the past two years.”

Judging-wise, the CIVL Battle is broken down into five categories in which points can be awarded, and it does not take a lot of imagination to see how Merciful Angel’s high-decibal performance prompted superior numbers in musicianship and stage presence. Merciful Angel moves on to the next stage of the competition to be played in late June.

Working with Sophia Suderman, who is also the performance director for Jam in Jubilee, CIVL is coordinating the Battle of the Bands as part of a fundraising effort that will also take place on their radio shows.

“I’m happy with the results [so far],” Levy concluded.

With this first step, there is also the possibility for future iterations of the event, with the hope this year’s efforts will help put together a foundation to build on next year.

“We won’t have to reinvent the wheel next time, whenever that is,” Levy said.

The Battle of the Bands continues through June and July Saturday nights at 7 p.m. for 10 weeks in total at AfterMath. Cover charge is $5 at the door, and cold beverages are available.

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