Vegas Band Arrlo Takes Home Henderson's Battle of the Bands Championship
Written by Isaac Kuhlman
All Photos Credit to F DiNicola/COH
HENDERSON, NV – The City of Henderson Parks & Recreation department hosted their annual Battle of the Bands competition on Saturday, March 25, 2023 with the top 5 bands selected from over 30 submissions vying for the title of champion and a $1500 prize (complete with giant check).
The event was coordinated by Henderson city employee Jonathan Wolske who is also a local musician in the greater Las Vegas area for over 20 years.
The 5 bands that competed varied in both sound and age range from the youngest band, November Ave. whose members are all in high school or middle school with a punk rock / emo vibe, to Radical West whose members are in their late 20’s and early 30’s and boast a funk, jam-rock sound.
The rules essentially stated that the bands each had 25 minutes to play their set, and they had to perform at least one cover song and one original song with NO profanity. Simple enough.
The night started out with November Ave. playing a cover song called “Buried Alive” by Avenge Sevenfold which is a very bold choice due to the fact that it is almost 7 minutes long and has a very technical guitar lead to start out with no other instruments on the recorded version except a strings part (that rock bands don’t have).
The female fronted band (4 out of 5 members are female as well which is awesome) is definitely very talented, but to have that much pressure put on a single player right away is very hard to put on any player of any age, and as such, the guitarist did have a couple of miscues due to nerves.
The band played did get through the song pretty well though, and during the latter half of the song, as the song picked up tempo, it got pretty rocking.
Before they played their next song (which I believe was titled “Same Name”), the lead singer told the story of how it was the first song she had ever written, and it was constructed after an ex-boyfriend cheated on her with a girl of the same name. She even called him out by name and dedicated the song to him.
It was a brutal revenge story that got a good chuckle from the adult members of the audience.
The song was much more uptempo and got to the punk sound that I think the band would fit well in once they start writing more songs.
Up next was the rock act Valley of Fire which is a 4-piece that has 3 brothers in the lineup and has ties to some of the classic rock sounds and 90’s anthem rock like Aerosmith and Spin Doctors.
They put on a great show with a high-energy set filled with covers of songs like “Come Together” (originally done by The Beatles) and an original song called “All American Vegas Girl” which is available on streaming platforms on April 7th.
Lead singer, Dante Santos was seemingly born to perform as he rocked out on the microphone, as well as playing one-handed keyboard to accompany many of the songs, and he even busted out a tambourine melee during one song.
The band showed that they have a ton of talent, and while they didn’t end up placing in the money, they definitely showed the well over 400 people in attendance what a good time on stage looks like.
The band has a lot of time to grow as well since they are all very young with most members still in high school.
Next up was SECOS - a 4-piece rock band of Hispanic heritage - that rocks out with tunes in the same musical sphere as bands like The Strokes and Franz Ferdinand, but with a distinct tenor/alto vocalist in lead singer David Candelas who brings the classic Mexican rock singer out to create a unique sound.
The band started out pretty straightforward and built up their set to coincide with what you would see at a good rock concert which they did the best of all the contestants, in my opinion. It felt like an actual full set, and that was definitely their strength.
The band performed 4 of their original songs including their fan favorites “I Wish You Had More Friends” and “Monochrome” before ending a cover of Harry Styles’ “As It Was” which had even the youngest of audience members dancing in their seats.
Candelas even set down his guitar for a song just to make sure he had a chance to rock out and hype up the crowd.
A rather funny moment occurred when Candelas gave a nod to their fanbase - dubbed “sick ass foos, or SAF for short” - by jumping around and mouthing the words, “Sick ass foos” since the contest prohibited profanity on stage. A great way to tip their cap to their large gathering and also to stay within the guidelines.
It was a really great set, and the sound quality was almost as if listening to an album being played.
Next on the lineup was Vegas pop-rock act Arrlo who brought a lot of great energy to the crowd by jumping out with their first song “WFTWTE” (which stands for Waiting For The World To End), and even though I had seen this song performed live before, this was probably the best I had seen them perform that song. It had more raw energy in it without compromising the sound quality in any way.
They continued with songs like “Loving and Losing,” a new original song called “Cavities” (which may be my new favorite song of theirs), covering “Toxic” by Brittney Spears and ending with their song “Medicine.”
The set was very strong once the crowd started to engage with the band which took a couple of songs, because most rock fans usually allow 1-2 songs to figure out what kind of energy they want to bring to a band’s set…not sure why, but unless they are a big headliner, that usually seems to be the case.
Last but not least was Radical West which is a pretty polished jam-rock/funk-rock band which can be reasonably compared to a mix between The P-Funk All-Stars and Jack Johnson.
Their sound, timing and talent were pretty impressive as the band played a couple of their original songs including “Reaction” and “Around My Head” as well as a cover of Toto’s “Roseanna” which for me was technically on point, but somehow the steam of their set seemed to be a bit flattened as they were focused more on getting the song right (due to some of the difficult timing parts).
I may be wrong in that assessment though, because about 10-20 adults in the 45+ age range were rocking out to the song pretty hard…I think that may be more about them then what energy was coming from the stage on that particular song though.
However, the band were incredibly energetic on their originals even though some of them were a bit more on the slow-jam spectrum. The performance was really good throughout their set, and they managed to easily flow from one song to the next.
After the bands were all done playing, the panel of judges had to tabulate their scores and prized for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place were announced.
The judging panel consisted of some heavyweight musicians including Kelly Garni (founding member and bassist of Quiet Riot), Chris Reeve (touring drummer for Avril Lavigne among other acts), Ashley Reeve (bassist for Cher among other acts), and Nils Goldschmidt who is the bassist of Vegas rock band Velvet Chains, and rounding out the judging panel, well, me actually. How the hell did that happen?
There was a specific criteria for judging based on 5 categories like “Performance Quality”, “Preparedness & Planning” and “Interface with Audience” that helped allow the judging to be broken down into a more systematic approach.
In the end, the top 3 bands were:
Third Place - SECOS - $250 prize
Second Place - Radical West - $500 prize
First Place - Arrlo - $1500 prize
I am sure that if you read the title of this article, you would have already known that though.
All 5 bands showed a ton of support and positivity for each other and played really good music. So, when the City of Henderson puts on the show next year, I suggest you check it out, because there are some incredible bands in the Vegas metropolitan area (which does include Henderson) that deserve your attention.