Gearing up for a Bicoastal Smackdown: Xconomy’s Battle of the Tech Bands 3 Coming February 4

1/12/10Follow @wroush

Xconomy’s Battle of the Tech Bands has become a welcome wintertime ritual in Cambridge: every January or February we get a bunch of loud, enthusiastic musicians together with a loud, enthusiastic crowd at the Middle East Night Club for a night of hot tunes, bravura performances, and audience voting. But this year—on February 4, to be exact—we’re trying something a little different.

Usually, we invite bands from tech companies around the Boston area to apply to compete, with judges selecting the finalists—and we’ll likely return to that format next year. But this time we decided to bring together past standouts from all three of Xconomy’s previous battles in Boston and Seattle for a grand East Coast vs. West Coast play-off that should put an end to all future questions about which edge of the continent is the most talented.

And believe me, the Seattle bands are ready to strut their stuff for a Boston audience. One of the two bands, Juda’s Wake, offered a dose of trash talk in advance of the battle, while the other, Lions Ambition, is a bit more restrained.

“We’re getting’ prepped for it and can’t wait to bring some Seattle thunder to Boston!” says Jim Dixon, bassist/vocalist for Juda’s Wake, which represents Microsoft. The heavy metal group’s material is loud, edgy, and rhythmically intricate, showing the influence of groups such as Tool, Disturbed, Marilyn Manson, Rush, and Static X.

Lions Ambition, an upbeat six-member hip-hop/rap/rock ensemble representing Boeing, offers a slightly more lamb-like preview. “I think we do the best as the humble guest,” says Frankie Starr, who shares the group’s MC/vocals role with Marlon Turner. “We’ll let the music and our performance do the talking and have it speak for itself. Looking forward to seeing Boston and competing.”

A big shout-out to Brad Feld, the co-founder of Mobius Venture Capital, Foundry Group, and venture incubator TechStars, for picking up the tab for the two Seattle bands’ travels to Boston. TechStars recently announced, by the way, that it will host a Seattle startup bootcamp session this year—and TechStars Boston executive director Shawn Broderick will be on hand on February 4 as a guest-celebrity judge to help us choose our traditional “Most Innovative Band” prize.

I haven’t seen either of the Seattle bands play, but I have seen their competition, and it will be stiff. The Seattle groups are going up against DeadBeat Darling, a pop/dub/electronica band that won the Audience Favorite award at the inaugural Battle of the Tech Bands in 2008, and The Dirty Truckers, a country-rock-soul band that took the same prize in 2009. Deadbeat Darling formerly represented Akamai and now represents Pictela, a New York cloud computing startup funded by Avalon Ventures through Cambridge-based partner Rich Levandov. The Dirty Truckers represent Boston-based American Well.

You can get tickets for the showdown here. They’re $25 in advance at $35 at the door, and we’ll be donating the net proceeds to two local educational non-profits: Science Club for Girls and Year Up Boston.

As always, we’ll be giving away some fabulous door prizes at the battle, including Roomba robot vacuum cleaners donated by Bedford, MA-based iRobot. We’ll have more to announce on that front soon, and we’ll also be letting you know about the prizes for which our four bands are competing.

Buy your tickets now, and be sure to bring your cell phones to the battle, as you’ll be able to vote for your favorite band via text message, using an interactive display system provided by our event sponsor Aerva of Cambridge. Our other event sponsors include Microsoft and McNamee Lawrence & Co., and the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce is an event partner.

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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