Chuck Kuepfer, Staff Reporter
Elmira’s Central Tavern was rocking Saturday night at the first annual Summer Slam Battle of the Bands.
Five bands, predominately comprised of teenaged musicians, took the stage eyeing the first-place prize: the opening slot for international recording artist Anthony Gomes’s Elmira show in October.
When the music stopped and the judges votes were tallied, The Suns, a five-piece blues/jazz ensemble formerly known as The Heavy Electrics, took top prize.
“We have been playing together for three weeks as a five piece,” said lead singer Scott Metzger.
The band also includes Nick Rorai-McNeil (organist), Angus Mulrooney (lead guitar), Nate Dowdall (drums) and Chris Paleshi (lead guitar).
Along with winning the opportunity to open for Anthony Gomes, The Suns will get to headline their own paid gig at the Central Tavern at a later date.
“It’s very cool, it’s still sinking in,” said Metzger of the band’s win.
The Sun’s influences include everything from blues and rock, to jazz and classical music. Major influences, which shine through in the band’s sound, are Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Cream.
“The most rewarding part about playing together is we are just five guys playing music, no computers or auto tune or drum machines,” said Metzger. “It’s raw, just five guys having fun.”
The Suns, who have aspirations of recording an album and playing larger venues, such as Royal Albert Hall or the El Mocambo down the road, was one of two young bands to take the stage without a bass guitarist.
Three Pennies, which took third place in the competition, also played without a bass player, a three-piece act with a Black Keys-inspired rock sound.
Runner-up was singer/acoustic guitarist Jessica Thomson of St. Marys.
The opening band Bijnew, a four-piece act from Elmira, played a number of classic rock songs from the late ’60s and early ’70s. That included a crowd-pleasing rendition of The Band’s “The Weight.”
Breakin’ Even followed with a set that featured a majority of more recent covers, including an anguished version of the Eurythmic’s “Sweet Dreams.”
Three Pennies set, which was hampered by a faulty kick pedal, featured a cover of The Stooges “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” The band dealt the drum set back admirably.
Fourth to take the stage, The Sun’s played played a number of well-received originals, including “Where it Rains into the Sun” and “Soul Train.” They ended the set with an impromptu jazz jam.
Jessica Thomson closed out the evening with a solo performance of cover songs, including the Foo Fighter’s “Everlong” and her favourite Tragically Hip song, “So Hard Done By.”
The Summer Slam Battle of the Bands was presented by the Central Tavern and Promoagogo.