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The City Journals

Survival of the fittest in battle of the bands

Apr 09, 2018 05:14PM ● By Jet Burnham

All eight members of The Boios showed their skill through a solo. (Photo/Scott Burnham)

Peanut Butter Octopus, the band from Riverton High School, arrived at the PTA’s Region 6 Battle of the Bands as returning state champions. Even when they realized their drummer was missing his kick pedal, they felt confident about their performance. Then during their first song, bass player AJ Barbee broke a string. 

“He was just flapping away on his bass and it just finally gave way,” said Noah Hambleton, the drummer. 

Barbee didn’t miss a beat—literally. 

He moved his fingers to a lower string, on a higher fret, transposing the notes in his head as he played on.

“I didn’t notice and I didn’t hear any mistakes, so that was impressive,” said Hambleton. “Under those high pressure situations, these guys all know how to react and to keep their cool.”

The band, which also includes DJ Taylor on guitar and vocals and Ryan Bennett on guitar, has a lot of performing experience and training from lessons at School of Rock and Kaleb Chapman Sound House.

The band is headed to state again this year after surviving the night’s obstacles to take first place. Judges scored Peanut Butter Octopus high in the area of Confidence and Stage Presence. Judges also gave points for Energy and Crowd Response.

Peanut Butter Octopus chose high energy songs that were fun to play and that they knew would appeal to the audience. 

Bands were required to play a cover song and an original song to showcase their talent. Judges looked for well-rounded musicians, also rating bands on the Musicality, Creativity and Technical Proficiency of their songs.

Barbee said each band puts their own spin on their cover song. Peanut Butter Octopus played a cover of “Crazy” by CeeLo Green.

 “It’s a Frankenstein cover—we chose the song, took it apart, rearranged it, changed the key and put it back together,” said Taylor. The entire band worked together to write their original piece, “Strawberries.”

The Boios, the eight-member jazz combo from Herriman High, credited their second place finish on their mastery of their instruments. 

Russel Horrocks on drums, Taylor Shamrell on trumpet, Daniel Estes on alto sax, Tyson Munford on tenor sax, Ben Thorne on baritone sax, James Creasey on electric bass, Dallin Gray on sousaphone and Britain Bashore on trombone took turns improvising solos over a catchy baseline. 

“Because we have solo sections, it allows us to show that we have a deeper understanding of what we’re playing,” said Horrocks.

The Boios entertained the audience with coordinated choreography and high energy performances of their original piece “LeGoose” and a jazzy cover of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.”

The seven bands competing in the March 6 Battle showcased a variety of musical styles. 

Electric Pineapple (Dustin Bowers, Benjamin Searle, Dallas Goodfellow, Paul Hathaway, Jordan Shahan and Sam Howard) from Cyprus High won third place with their danceable cover of “Without You” by Luck Chops as well as their original composition, “Electric Chops.” The drums and electric bass kept an energetic beat beneath bright and rich trumpet, tuba, trombone and saxophone melodies. 

Honor Me This from Stansbury High School got the audience dancing to their alternative rock songs.

Enter The Abyss from Murray High played progressive metal, loud and technically complex instrumental pieces.

Bingham High’s two-member Monk Militia incited the crowd into a head-banging frenzy with their thrash metal.

The six members of Skyline’s Weakest Link were having a blast, playing their high energy brass band cover of Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This).” They cheered each others’ solo runs and played off the crowd, earning them the People’s Choice Award of the evening. 

The top three bands moving on to the state competition at the end of this month are Peanut Butter Octopus, The Boios and Electric Pineapple. They received prize money ranging from $75-$250.

When they won the region and state Battle of the Bands last year, Peanut Butter Octopus used the prize money to buy carrying cases for their drums. This year they will definitely use some of the money for instrument maintenance. 

“We’ll buy some strings,” said Taylor.