The final round of the Ambassadors of Rock Hard Rock Cafe Battle of the Bands got so intense late Wednesday night, the panel of judges even used the calculator apps on their phones to double-check their math while adding up scores.
With great local talent like Sun Domingo, Ill, My Instant Lunch, Ben Deignan Band, Calling All Stars and The Brotherland all in the finals, nobody wanted to make a mistake.
For more than four hours, each band battled through nanosecond sound checks, guitar strings that not-so-conveniently snapped on opening songs and a dubious Rock 100.5 FM trip giveaway that required multiple contestants to drag guitars and amps up on stage before each band played a three-song set.
The Brotherland introduced the energetic crowd to their blues-fused rock.
Augusta’s My Instant Lunch showed up in fedoras and neckties to unleash their unique sound influenced by swing and rockabilly.
Calling All Stars played melodic power pop from their latest album, “Blue Eyed Soul.”
Atlanta trio Ill rocked harder than bands with twice their members on original tunes “Happy” and One Time.”
Atlanta’s Sun Domingo showed off its impressive musicality and live showmanship with “Mercy” and “New Love City.”
But at the end of the evening, it was the Ben Deignan Band who energized the crowd most and scored the highest scores from the judges, propelling them into the Ambassadors of Rock Hard Rock Cafe Battle of the Bands national finals.
The U.S. winner will open for Sir Paul McCartney and Pearl Jam in London’s Hyde Park this summer.
“We don’t ever do competitions so this was all new to us,” Ben Deignan Band drummer Lance Tilton told Intel afterward. “I put all my energy into those three songs. I didn’t have anything left.”
Said a still-soaked Deignan as he collected hugs from friends: “We were so lucky to have a crowd who came out to support us. I’m completely beside myself that we get to represent Atlanta in this competition. We’ve got your back, Atlanta!”