Atlanta winners advance to finals in Hard Rock Cafe’s Band Battle

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We now have a firmer understanding of how “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell must feel each Tuesday night.

No, we haven’t taken to sporting pectoral showcasing black T-shirts.

On Wednesday night, Intel was honored to help judge the third round of the Ambassadors of Rock Battle of the Bands at the Hard Rock Cafe downtown.

Hard Rock Cafe locations around the country are currently holding band battles with a winner slated to open for Paul McCartney and Pearl Jam in London’s Hyde Park June 25.

Atlanta’s own Sun Domingo, Ill, Big Snow and The Less were the four notable acts banging through abbreviated sets Wednesday night.

First up, was Sun Domingo, whose innovative sound and advanced musicianship scored them an opening slot last year opening for Marillion in Montreal. This week, the band issued a live disc set culled from the gig.

Atlanta rockers Ill are just a trio but you’d never know it from the volume and intensity these guys demonstrated on stage, blowing through their inventive tunes, “Sunk and Still Sinking” and “One Time.”

 They even looked like a no frills, hard-working rock band, down to the wallet chains and sleeveless stage gear.

Kennesaw’s own Big Snow held down the third slot of the evening with their completely original blend of rock, rap and humor. We’ll admit it: We have a soft spot for any band who cites “Your Mom” and “Saved By the Bell” as “influences” on their MySpace page.

Their sticky sweet salute to Southern women, “Sweet Tea, No Lemon” even manages to name drop Peachtree City.

The evening’s final act? Atlanta’s own The Less , who have a brand new EP out produced by non other than Collective Soul frontman Ed Roland.

The ridiculously melodic quintet had fans screaming  along as they performed “Pieces” and the piano-enhanced The Change” both found on their new EP.

The problem at the judges’ table?

We were forced to select just two of the acts to advance to next week’s free, all ages Wednesday night finale at the Hard Rock Cafe downtown.

After a tough vote, the winners moving on to the finals are: Sun Domingo and Ill.

But fans of local music should definitely check out all four acts on the bill Wednesday night.

Even the guys who lost the competition Wednesday night took the time to come by the judges’ table, stick out their hands and say thanks.

 The impressive diversity and creativity all the bands brought to the stage are great examples of why Atlanta’s music scene remains one of the most vibrant in the country.

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