Let the Band Battle Begin!

1/11/08

The Xconomy offices have been rocking for the last few weeks, as our neighbors in the next office can surely attest. We had a bumper crop of fantastic entries for our January 22 Battle of the Tech Bands, and so (with the help of judges who have actual musical expertise—-more on that later) we did a lot of toe tapping, head bobbing, and narrowing of the field to the six bands that will compete at the Middle East in a week and a half.

So without further ado (and in reverse alphabetical order because I have a Z name and lingering elementary-school trauma), allow me to introduce:

The Souled Out SuperBand (representing Bose)
This 9-piece funk and soul band boasts a killer horn section, a vast repertoire of Tower Of Power, Earth Wind & Fire, Chicago, and classic Motown, and some super-fancy gizmos for amplifying and recording their stuff. (Well, what do you expect from a bunch of PhDs, engineers, and the like who have all put in their time at Bose?)

Sad Marvin (representing Smiths Medical)
This five-member, alt/indie/groove rock group grew out of the New Hampshire hometown partnership of bassist Corey Schofield and guitarist (and Smiths Medical employee) Filthy Rich Savoie. (I doubt he goes by “Filthy” at work, but one never knows.) Sad Marvin debuted its new singer, Amanda ZW, back in November and boy that girl can belt it out.

One Hand Free (representing IBM)
According to the Portsmouth Herald, this New Hampshire band’s latest CD “brings the listener back to the days of Pontiac Firebirds, tight jeans, tie-dye, and long hair.” We beg of you not to bring any of the aforementioned to the show (well, maybe the hair’s ok), but we think you’ll groove to these guys as much as we did during judging.

McAlister Drive (representing Linedata Services)
I haven’t decided yet who I’m going to cheer for at the Middle East, but this four-man indie pop group wins the prize for getting a song stuck in my head during judging. In case you’re wondering about the name (which some of us here were), it comes from a street on Tulane’s campus; previously called Crown, the band adopted the name after Hurricane Katrina. We’ll see if they can kick up a storm on January 22.

The Knuckledusters (representing Bioprocessors Corp. and Veritas Medicine)
On its website, this Somerville, MA-based swing-a-billy band promises “bar-room rockers about hot rods, racin,’ out-runnin’ the cops, drinkin’, gamblin,’ fightin,’ lyin,’ cheatin,’ pin-up chicks, dancin’ chicks, regular chicks, more hot rods, jail, all-around sinnin,’ and…oh yeah, a few about ghosts (‘cause ghosts are cool!)” We’re hopin’ they aren’t lyin’ about the ghosts because, well, the idea of it is crackin’ us up.

Deadbeat Darling (representing Akamai)
Deadbeat Darling invites listeners to “imagine the early Police, Manu Chao and The Cure collaborating to write a Quentin Tarantino movie soundtrack” and then “sprinkle in the energy of a late 60′s feel good anthem [and] some modern day indie-rock soundscapism.” It’s a mouthful, but it’s an eerily apt description of the unique, infectious sound produced by this five-member group, which is schlepping to Boston all the way from Brooklyn for the battle.

We set out to put this event together because we had the suspicion that a surprising number of folks in the local tech and life science scene had secret musical alter egos. What’s more surprising, at least if the bands who entered the competition are any indication, is that so many of the bands these folks play in are so damn good. That’s why we’re grateful to the judges who helped us make the tough calls necessary to narrow down the competition: Art Technology Group co-founder Jeet Singh, who goes by the name Miki when he fronts the band Dragonfly, and Patrick Faucher, a Berklee College of Music grad, lifelong musician and technologist, and co-founder of Nimbit. Thanks guys!

All we need now is you. The final winner of the Xconomy Battle of the Tech Bands will be chosen by the audience, using a nifty cell-phone voting system, so be sure to bring your cell phone along. Tickets for the event, (which will go down at the Middle East Restaurant and Nightclub at 472-480 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge) are $20 in advance at www.xconomybands.eventbrite.com—actually only $15 if you buy in blocks of 10—and $25 at the door. That gets you not only admission, but also a little something to eat and drink.

But wait, there’s more! Everyone who attends will be eligible to win one of our fantastic door prizes, including two Rock Band bundles from Harmonix Music Systems and three Microsoft Zune music players.

So come and cheer for your favorite band—or maybe find yourself a new one—and help us celebrate the Boston technology community’s propensity for rocking out.

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