Last Night at the OC Music Awards Best Live Band Finals

Categories: OC Music Awards
steelwells_ocma2011.jpg
Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
The Steelwells
OC Music Awards Best Live Band
Feb. 25, 2011
Galaxy Concert Theater


The best live band of the 10th-annual OC Music Awards was announced last Friday night at a showcase at the Galaxy Concert Theatre in Santa Ana. And the winner is . . . drumroll, please . . . The Steelwells!
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Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
Railroad to Alaska
The Fullerton band were one of five acts competing for the honor, alongside pop-punk band We Are the Arsenal, metal band Railroad to Alaska, indie band Kiev and the rap spectacle that is BLOK. Comments, complements and criticisms I made regarding these bands in reviews of earlier showcases stand. The only exception would be the Steelwells, whose performance I missed at night one of the semi-finals held at Detroit Bar on Jan. 1. 

The indie quintet with the soaring vocals and thunderous percussion was one of the bands I most eagerly awaited, seeing as their debut album, Shallow on the Draft, has been in heavy rotation on my car stereo. Unfortunately, through no fault of their own, the band's set was plagued with some annoying technical issues, specifically a high-pitched squealing sound blaring through the PA system.

This glitch was present throuought the first half of the set and led to some visible tension, most notably when keyboard player Billy Kim made several emphatic gestures toward his gear in an attempt to signal the onstage sound guy. Luckily, these blokes are pros and kept their cool, finishing big and encouraging audience participation on the final song of their set, "El Capitan." Their winning wasn't a shock and was well-deserved. Having recently gained the attention of Rolling Stone magazine, big things are (hopefully) in their future.

Two other bands stood out at last night's show. (Aside from BLOK, that is, as their primary function is to stand out.) Railroad to Alaska put on a kick-ass, high-energy performance that rocked immediately accessible grooves while never giving up their hard edge. If you haven't had the chance, check out the song "Heavens to Betsy"; it's dynamic, über-catchy and neck-snappingly intense. They opened with this number and were rewarded when a seething pit opened up in front of the stage.

Toning things down, indie band Kiev demonstrated an uncanny ability to make intricately orchestrated spacey songs sound fluid and improvised. Their groovy, ethereal rock catches listeners off-guard with sudden bursts of intensity punctuated with curious saxophone breaks. It's odd to see a band with this much talent competing at a local level. 

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Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
BLOK

Overheard: "I think she has rabies," said one girl in the audience of BLOK MC Gianna Gianna, whose wide-eyed sneer can be rather unsettling.

The Crowd: See all previous blog posts pertaining to OCMAs.

Personal Bias: Though I really like the Steelwells, I was rooting for either Railroad or Kiev. With that said, this proved to be a highly exhilarating final show. Orange County is lucky to have such talented bands.


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8 comments
shoo in
shoo in

Why are we arguing about We Are the Arsenal? They were voted in by their fans, they weren't even in the competition at this point and were just given another opportunity to play in front of a new crowd, they should be thankful for that.

Ps I'm glad the Steelwells got nominated for best music video for the music video that was made from their winnings at last years ocmas... thanks Ashley

Ray of Sunshine
Ray of Sunshine

Am I the only guy that likes that Brandon is willing to state his honest opinion rather than be another glad-handing dipsh*t in Orange County saying everyone is great? Welcome to the real world. Sometimes people don't like what you like. I personally don't trust the opinion of someone that isn't willing to say anything bad about anyone so I find it refreshing. For the record; I didn't agree with the outcome of the finals. I thought it was a joke, but oh well. The Steelwells aren't bad but it wasn't their best performance at all and it wasn't even a top 3 performance of the night.

James Shoemaker
James Shoemaker

Is there a category for Best Venue? The Galaxy and their staff would not win.

Justin
Justin

Hey Zac Bullock, we're on the same page here.

Zac Bullock
Zac Bullock

Who is this writer and why is he writing a "personal bias"? Where was he on Friday? We Are The Arsenal I would not categorize as pop punk. Those guys rock! If the writer is biased with pre-conceived notions of who he wants (ex: I'm personal friends with Sederra, I was rooting for Railroad or Kiev) than the writer shouldn't be posting on the OC Music Awards page! Who cares about Brandon Ferguson's personal opinions and why is he given a voice on this page? He obviously has a personal issue against WATA because if he knew anything about music he would give those guys the respect they deserve. They are a hard hitting, awesome band and great group of guys! I personally went to the show to rock out to We Are The Arsenal but yet we stayed and supported the other bands too and I don't even give my two sense on this page or blogs. If we're allowed personal bias on this page then mine is Brandon Ferguson's blogs should be kept to himself and not on the OC Music page! Who cares what he thinks?

Justin
Justin

Hey Brandon Ferguson, you should really learn your genres and don't incorporate your biases into your writing if you want to become a legit music critic. We Are the Arsenal not only rocked the Galaxy, first slot and all, but they are not even close to being a "pop punk" band.

innocent bye-bye-stander
innocent bye-bye-stander

anyone remember the fart of dull applause following the announcement of the Steelwells undeserved victory? sounded like when george bush won his second term.

valium control
valium control

ya lets attack brandon...wah wah........ typical idiot move. he didnt slam anyone. he was pretty fuckin gracious with this one. misrepresented a band? has an personal opinion? welcome to the world of journalism. typos, bias, misunderstanding are quite common with every news organization. settle down. writers and editors are only human.

ps you did add your two cents and it didnt buy much

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