MARQUETTE - The Blue Lounge in downtown Marquette is in the middle of hosting its first Battle of the Bands and organizer Joe Secreast has been absolutely amazed thus far.
"All the bands have been lovely, gracious and cool," said Secreast, who is the venue's booking agent. "They help each other out with things, like getting on and off stage. They have been so good about supporting each other. Instead of being competitive, they've been cooperative."
The Battle started May 11 with four bands taking to the stage, then continued May 12 with four more competitors. Action continues this weekend, with four bands Friday night and four bands tonight. The final preliminary round will be May 25 with five bands vying for the top spot.
Post-hardcore-metalcore group Stitch the Wounds compete in the May 12 Battle of the bands contest at the Blue Lounge in Marquette. The Marquette band went on to win the evening’s competition and will advance to the final round on May 26. (Joe Secreast photo)
Then the winner from each of these five preliminary nights will go head to head May 26 for the grand prize package, which includes $1,000 and a free demo from Cameron Studios.
May 11's winners were Everything Under the Sun, while Stitch the Wounds won the May 12 edition, Secreast said.
While putting together an event like a Battle of the Bands is a lot of work, Secreast is happy everything has come together so well.
"This is something I've always wanted to do. Patrick Digneit of Double Trouble DJs and I started the planning," he said. "We wanted to find a good time to do it and May is one of those up-in-the-air months so we went ahead and set it for then. We didn't want to conflict with the established events that go on in other months.
"We were only go to go one weekend, but once we put the sign up at The Blue Lounge about the battle, so many responded we expanded to two weekends," Secreast said. "Then we went to three because the response was so great.
"We went in having no idea if anyone would be interested," he said. "They were."
Secreast said creating a fair way to judge such a battle was something that received a great deal of discussion.
"Originally we were just going to have a panel of judges but that didn't seem fair. We talked about just having a popular vote but with some of the bands coming from farther away, that didn't seem fair either," Secreast said. "So we went with a combination of the two."
So each night, the Battle is judged by a select panel (30 percent) and votes from the public (70 percent). Votes from the public are in the form of chips earned per drink purchased at the lounge.
"I have to give lots of credit to Jason Ghiardi, the bar manager," Secreast said. "He's been so great with this. This has to be something where everyone has fun and he's made sure that happens."
In fact, that was one of the guidelines given to the entering musicians.
"We told the bands that really, there is no one best band in Marquette," he said. "What we were looking for was to bring everyone together to have a good time and someone will walk away with some money."
Things, so far, have worked out well.
"The turnout has been great and everyone so far has been wonderful," Secreast said. "There's no animosity at all, no bad vibes. It really has been heartening to see."
Having been around the Marquette music scene for a few years, Secreast said he judges this to be one of the community's best times.
"Right now in Marquette there are so many talented people," he said. "We could have kept this going for months. It's amazing."
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.