Poison Control Center wins Battle of the Bands

Tim Paluch

From the pop-punk sounds of Far Cry to the alternative rock styling of dead by Wednesday to the alt-indie garage rock flair of Poison Control Center, Friday’s Battle of the Bands dished out 10 hours of diverse local music to an oft-energetic Welch Ave. crowd.

Beginning at 2 p.m. with Keepers of the Carpet, the event showcased the eclectic local music scene, offering a pleasant entertainment alternative for those not interested in the Vertical Horizon show going on the next night just a few blocks away.

Poison Control Center walked away with the first-place prize – a $250 gift certificate to Pro Sound. Karma Lab captured second place and a $100 gift certificate to Pro Sound. Both bands also received an encore slot on the Veishea stage Saturday night.

Placing third and walking away with a $50 Pro Sound gift certificate was crowd favorite Far Cry.

Poison Control Center took the stage at 8 p.m. and immediately grabbed hold of the crowd’s attention. Donning green outfits and calling themselves the “Kaleidoscope Kids” from Stoneybrook, U.S.A., the band, led by Pookey Bleum’s Pat Fleming and consisting of seven members playing an array of instruments, erupted into a powerful and emotional set pleasing to both the eye and the ear.

In what can only be described as garage rock mixed with ’50s girl pop, Poison Control Center’s innovative sound and tremendous stage presence won over the crowd, and evidently the event’s judges as well.

Second-place winners Karma Lab, the last band to perform, brought a creative sound to the event. Their Radiohead-influenced rock sound may not have sparked a huge interest from the passersbys on Welch Ave., but those huddled in front of the stage were treated to an energetic and enigmatic set.

Just as the rain began, Karma Lab finished their performance with a “country jam” that somehow managed to mesh a rousing harmonica with some heavy guitar riffs.

Third-place winners Far Cry began at 5 p.m., and within minutes had those in attendance bopping their heads to their catchy guitar pop rhythms.

Far Cry’s fans were treated to an energetic set, with lead singer Shawn Walding giving away an autographed drum cover to the “dumbest girl” in the audience, during a rendition of the crowd-favorite “Dumb Girl.”

Although failing to place in the top three, some bands still managed to win over those in attendance.

After getting lost in traffic, Marcato played just three songs in a shortened set, but still had the crowd jamming along.

Ames rock staple dead by Wednesday ignited the crowd with their powerful set. The crowd erupted into a mosh pit about halfway through their performance, and the band played off that emotion, delivering 40 consistent minutes of hard rock expertise.

But the night belonged to Poison Control Center, whose innovative and completely original sound blew away the competition.

Whether singing about imaginary friends or how hands smell like breasts, Poison Control Center was in a league of its own.