Wednesday, July 22, 2009 / Hard Rock Cafe "Ambassadors of Rock" Competition Review

Photos by Brook DAngelo / Hard Rock Cafe Ambassadors of Rock Competition Review Part 1 / Hard Rock Cafe Ambassadors of Rock Competition Review Part 2

Hard Rock Hosts Successful Battle of the Bands

Contributed by: Deandra Modica on 4/24/2009

On Thursday night, the Niagara Falls Hard Rock Café hosted the Ambassadors of Rock Battle of the Bands. The four talented local bands that performed at this free event are competing with other local bands throughout the United States to perform onstage at Hard Rock Calling 2009, a live concert in London's Hyde Park featuring performances by The Killers, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Dave Matthews Band and more.

Esteemed judges of the competition included Robby Takac from the Goo Goo Dolls, Anthony Casuccio, a gold record audio engineer and vice president of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame, Hard Rock Café General Manager Dominic Verni, and James Kurdziel, Program Director for 103.3 The EDGE. Audience members were also distributed ballots to vote for the "fan favorite" who will be given the opportunity to play at the Hard Rock Café in Pittsburgh, PA.

The Common Kings opened the show promptly at 8 PM with six catchy songs that the audience noticeably enjoyed. Members of the crowd were nodding their heads as the band performed their new song "On the Surface." The noticeable highlight of The Common King's set was the band's breathtaking cover of The Kings of Leon's hit "Sex on Fire," in which lead singer Christian Kosmoski displayed his strong vocal abilities and audience members enthusiastically sang along.

Loyal Common Kings fan Rachelle Besser ardently raved about the band's performance. "They played really well tonight. This was an experience that was really enjoyable and I'm really happy I came."

Bryan, an audience member who was unfamiliar with The Common Kings before seeing them at the show, enjoyed the band's style of music. "I feel like they have a sort of 90's vibe and I love the 90's. They did great."

The second band to perform, Six Pin, came to the stage ready to entertain with their harder rock performance. Lead singer Andrew Mitchell prepared the crowd for their set expressing "Are you guys ready to rock out?" The band members were very interactive with the crowd and many fans cheered after each energizing song.

Concert attendee Nikki Rudy was pleased with Sixpin's set although she is not normally a fan of hard rock music. "I really liked Sixpin, they sound hard but have a smooth vibe at the same time," she said. "They're not the type of band that I would usually listen to but I really enjoyed their performance."

Third to the stage was Son of the Sun, a band recently featured in The Buffalo News as one of the Bands to Watch in 2009. Lead vocalist Zac Ward surprised many audience members when he announced that the band played their first show at the Hard Rock only about a year before Thursday's concert.

The intense emotional connection that the members of Son of the Sun had with each song they performed was palpable through their body language throughout the entire set. Ward literally shook as he skillfully sang each of the band's lyrically and musically captivating songs.

The Innocent Bystanders provided an upbeat performance full of engaging songs to conclude the show. Fans gathered at the front of the stage to dance and sing along to "Under Wraps" and "Teenage Moments" with the lively and entertaining band.

Alyssa Kreuder communicated her devotion to the local band. "The Innocent Bystanders are amazing. I think that the drummer, Scott Bernard, is awesome," Kreuder said. "I think all the bands that played tonight were great but Innocent Bystanders are my favorite!"

In the end, Son of the Sun won the votes of the judges as well as the audience and were named the fan favorite as well as the judges' pick to move further in the Hard Rock Calling 2009 competition.

A tape of the last two songs the band performed at the show will be sent to the Corporate members of the Hard Rock Café and Steven Vandt from Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band to judge. Son of the Sun will be in the running to perform at Hard Rock Calling 2009 against 21 other bands that competed in their local Ambassadors of Rock Battle of the Bands competitions at other Hard Rock Cafés around the nation.

Audience members were pleased with the outcome of the competition and the overall experience they had at the Hard Rock's event. Kendra and Jillian expressed "The best band won. Son of the Sun really deserved to win this. This was a great event and very well organized."

Crowd member Jessica Rimer also shared her satisfaction with the concert and with the Hard Rock Café for providing such an event. "This was a great concert, a free concert like this gives the local bands a lot of publicity and I think it is great that the Hard Rock provides local bands with such great opportunities."

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