It felt pretty safe to make a prediction about the winner of Channel 93.3's Hometown for the Holidays contest by the time My Body Sings Electric finished their set at Cassleman's on Saturday night. It wasn't as if Monroe Monroe hadn't delivered some dynamic moments during their forty-minute set, and it wasn't as if Rachel & the Kings didn't offer some stiff competition with their piano-based brand of pop rock. Still, there was something about how My Body Sings Electric had ramped up the crowd, something about how their set had popped with the energy of a stadium show. Turns out the crowd and the judges picked up on that energy, too.
At the end of the night, My Body Sings Electric won the "Top Music Nerd" vote from the KTCL DJs, as well as the audience award, a prize given based on the total applause from the crowd at the end of the night. Both awards carried their own benefits for the quintet -- as the winner of the "Music Nerd" prize, the band picked up free recording time at the Blasting Room studio in Fort Collins, as well as guaranteed spots at KTCL's 2013 Not So Silent Night Festival and the Westword Music Showcase next summer. As the audience favorite, the band picked up a cool $1,000.
But perhaps more importantly, the success represents a bigger step for My Body Sings Electric, an achievement that's become a kind of rite of passage for bigger and better things. Just as it was for bands like Churchill, Air Dubai and the Epilogues, the local honor could hint at greater feats to come.
And while My Body Sings Electric ended up taking home both of the night's prizes, the sill of the other two bands on display helped reinforce the observation about the depth and quality of the local scene. Monroe Monroe, the quartet that had earned a spot in the showcase based on the strength of the song "Everything You Give," gave a high-energy set seeped in driving, paired guitar lines and emotive vocals from frontman Moonbeam Abbatecola. There was a constant honesty in tunes like "Sleepy Rose" and "Only You," an earnestness that went deeper than the constant guitar effects.
Similarly, Rachel and the Kings offered a good dose of pure emotion in their set. The band's winning song, "Fall Down," combined driving tempos and guitar lines with the measured vocals of lead singer Rachel James. The band's combination of old-fashioned rock and roll with James's more meditative style earned plenty of requests and plenty of spins on the radio, and it also translated pretty well to a live environment.
For all the skill and energy of the two groups, however, My Body Sings Electric proved a tough competitor from the first song of their set. Lead singer Brandon Whalen delivered a frenzied energy right away, and his quick interplay with the audience paid off in the form of constant participation, constant applause and ultimately, the audience prize for best band.
Paired guitar solos between Nick Crawford and Jeff Fedel gave the band's sound different contours, and Whalen even took up an acoustic six-string for the final stretch of the set. The band had the crowd involved at every turn of their set, including during their cover of Tears for Fears' "Everybody Wants to Rule the World." The crowd favorite, "Oceancrest," had the entire front of the room seemingly singing along.
By the time the group finished up their energetic set, it was tough not to make early predictions about the winner of the contest, predictions that turned out pretty damned accurate. The next predictions will have to come in guessing whether the band can capitalize on the contest in the same way that past winners have, seeing if a competition between Denver bands can translate into success on a national stage.
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