After jamming to classic rock songs such as “Man in the Box” by Alice in Chains, “Barracuda” by Heart, and R&B classic “No Diggity” by Blackstreet, Wallingford-based rockers Down the Hatch emerged as the winner of the first round of Crystal Bees 2020 battle of the bands competition.
Scoring was determined through five categories—the vocals, the instruments, the band’s stage presence, the song lineup, and the timing or flow of that lineup.
The bands Sugar Daddy, Slant 6, Down the Hatch, Moon Matrix of the Lizard People, and Audacity all scored within five points of each other, but it was the energy and stage presence that pushed Down the Hatch into the lead.
Throughout their 20 minute set, all four members of the band—Mike Fernandes, Joey Quagliaroli, Joey Gonzalez, and Tom Porto—were visibly enjoying themselves, especially lead singer Gonzalez who not only danced throughout the entire set but proceeded to jump from the stage.
Throughout the set, Gonzalez interacted with audience members and judges alike.
“It’s just so much fun, and it’s great to get on stage and just do it for 20 minutes and put your best out there, you know?” said Fernandes, the band’s lead guitar player. “We were here last year. It’s a great opportunity to market and meet other bands.”
Down the Hatch, the members said, brought the same level of energy and intensity to last year’s performance but were hurt by the fact that they are a group that plays covers of popular songs—such as their opening song this year, “Harder to Breath” by Maroon 5—and last year’s competition was aimed towards highlighting original local talent.
The Wallingford locals praised several of the other bands they competed against, but there was one band in particular that appeared to win over the competition as well as the crowd—Slant 6, a group of teenagers from Enfield High School.
“Slant 6 blew me away. Those young kids have all the talent in the world,” said Gonzalez. “They’re just waiting for that spark to let them off. As soon as they can find someone to let them play and be themselves, they’re going to kill it.”
Next up are preliminary rounds two and three before heading into the championship round on Feb. 27. The series is sponsored by the Guitar Center of Southington and Budweiser.
Performing in round two on Thursday, Feb. 13, are Bad Bad Stereo, Dumb Love, Hard Luxury, Retrofit, and Rock Solid Alibi. Performing in round three on Thursday, Feb. 20, are Bedrock, Collective Difference, Death Saddle Syndicate, Diminishing Jim, and late entry Joetown.
Both preliminary rounds and the championship round (Thursday, Feb. 27) will begin at 7 p.m., and will be held at Crystal Bees at 240 Spring Street in Southington.
Down the Hatch will return to the Crystal Bees stage, along with winners from the Feb. 20 and Feb. 27 contests, during the championship round on Thursday, Feb. 27.
To comment on this story, or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at Entertainment@PlainvilleObserver.com.