After four grueling weeks of competition, Atlanta rock trio Graham’s Number will represent our city in the nationals of the annual Hard Rock Cafe’s Battle of the Bands competition. With a crazy amount of crowd support, tight musicianship and a spirited stage show at the Hard Rock Cafe downtown early Friday morning, Graham’s Number squeaked out a win with their deft blend of old school Jimi Hendrix-era rock, soul and reggae influences.
Most astonishingly, only one out of the three kids in the act could legally drink inside the bar. Guitarist and vocalist Nic Sanders and drummer Brandon McKinney are just 20-years-old while bassist Andy Scherm is the elder of the act at 21. Sanders and McKinney met as students at Osborne High School while Scherm graduated from Pope High School.
The winners of the national competition will open for Bon Jovi in Hyde Park in London later this year. Band Battle judge and Ticket Alternative president Iain Bluett told us privately: “They would just be the perfect band to listen to outside in the sun in Hyde Park out of all the acts we saw tonight.”
Other finalists with huge fan support Thursday night included Wesley Cook and Life & Limb. As part of the finals, each band was required to perform a cover of a Bon Jovi tune to be filmed and later used for the nationals competition. Atlanta finalists The Nominees chose a mash up of of the New Jersey rockers’ classic “Livin’ on a Prayer,” combining it with Michael Jackson‘s “Billie Jean.” Atlanta rock quartet The Swear battled sound issues while banging through an impressive rendition of their original “Vampire” and guitarist Jeremy Zamora donned a pin-adorned jean jacket for their cover of the late 1980s prom classic “Never Say Goodbye.”
The evening’s award for Best Rock Attitude went hip-hop/rock act United Streets of Atlanta, who scored well with the judges and were possibly poised to win it all until they were disqualified from the competition after refusing to play a Bon Jovi cover during their three-song set. Instead, they used the high profile gig to promote the band’s debut album release party tonight at Vinyl in Midtown at 8 p.m.