Battle of the bands

Tonight the battle commences.

More than 30 bands from across Indiana will converge in an epic Battle of the Bands over the next two months.

For Ball State senior Lucas Turner, the brain behind the project, it is the culmination of a desire fueled by a need to bring the local music scene together and years of watching movies.

"Even as far back as Bill and Ted, they would show these crazy Battle of the Bands scenes," Turner said. "I think that the industry here is ready for that. The music is there and the companies just need to latch on."

The event will will kick off at today at 9 p.m. with Adrian Sharp, Gary's Kitchen, Sleep on It, and Downfall. One band will be chosen from each of eight shows that will make up the preliminary rounds. Two semifinals will be held before the final showdown on December 13.

Winners will receive a $1,000 grand prize and a headlining spot at the Midwest Music Summit, the largest gathering of music industry representatives in the Midwest.

"They'll be playing in front of the record executives, which is a lot easier than the typical, 'Oh, here's my demo, I'll send it in, and if I'm really lucky then maybe the secretary will hand it to someone,'" Turner said. "No, here you're playing for the important guy -- and a bunch of them, too."

Turner, who runs his own promotion company Liquid Vibe, originally had an idea for a similar event several years ago but it fell through.

"I wanted to go to the fairgrounds one day with four stages and have one huge battle," he said "But I found out very quickly that the underground scene here wasn't connected enough. And so that would be a really bad idea."

After seeing a show at The Patio in Indianapolis, Turner thought about bringing it to a smaller venue. But the disunity of the local music scene still proved formidable. With no central source to contact musicians, he sought booking agents at local bars, sent out flyers and posted notices on the Internet.

"I literally walked seven or eight miles a day in dress shoes, which hurts, making sure I'd hit every bar, every place," he said. "That was the hardest part. Doing all the legwork and trying to get the word out."

Bands hail mainly from the Muncie area, but a few come from Indianapolis and as faraway as Purdue. They range in style from funk to death metal; from alternative rock to what Adrian Sharp described as "alternative country. "

"It's kind of a Willie Nelson sort of thing," Sharp, the only solo act in the battle, said. "It's sort of non-traditional country, but at the same time, it's very much to the roots of country, which was about drugs and sex."

Groups will be judged by audience members who will be handed a ballot when they walk in.

"First of all I don't believe in judges," Turner said. "I think it's crap that one person, just because they are so and so and discovered such and such bands have a better say over what music is than the rest of us. So I specifically said no judges."

Most groups say they plan to use the prize money to fund upcoming albums or buy new equipment.

"Mainly we just hope for exposure and just want a new group of people to hear our music," said Matt Kreager of Purdue based Sleep on It.

But ultimately, bands hope that the event will establish some sort of communication within the local music scene.

"I'd like to see a good community between these bands and Muncie, because there's nothing right now," said Matt Capps of Gary's Kitchen. "It'd be nice if we could get some kind of theme going."

"What I like the most is that something is finally getting done in the music scene here, and I'm a part of it," Turner said. "I don't own a bar, I don't run a bar. I'm just a guy trying to get music together, and for me that is very fulfilling."112-+â-ñ -¦JBattle of the Bands DNEditorial112SORT+â-ä2AUDT

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