by Jeff Niesel
The third round of the 17th Annual High School Rock Off, which took place last night at House of Blues featured another 10 bands competing for a spot at the upcoming Final Exam. There wasn't as much diversity — most acts fell loosely into the alt-rock category — as the first two rounds but three bands still moved on to the Final Exam.
St. Edward’s Freezing Rain started things off with a set of garage blues. The duo concluded with a credible cover of the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.” Halfway Home followed with a solid set of noisy alt-rock that drew from the screamo well. Afterwards, they handed out copies of their demo, which was produced by local guitar hero Neil Zaza. The Oberlin-based indie/punk trio Bam! followed with a set of similar-sounding songs that recalled Blink 182 and Lakewood’s Outburst Jr., yet another trio, also delivered a noisy punk set. Led by a woman with a particularly powerful voice, Sonorous, a Brunswick band that recently underwent a complete line-up change, followed with a set of mid-tempo alt-rock that included a mix of originals and covers, including a Paramore song. It scored points simply because its guitar player dressed as a frog.
Led by its high-energy, almost spastic lead singer, Kent Roosevelt’s Dead End Job played a punk rock set of mostly original material. With an introduction by one of the band member’s mothers (who got the moniker wrong), Strongsville’s the Presence of Absence played a set of punk rock that was distinguished by a few choice covers of songs by the Ramones and Frank Turner. The trio Lack of Focus, a finalist from last year’s Rock Off, offered a solid set that included a well-received cover of Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So.” Beside These Walls then played a set of hard rock/heavy metal that included a compelling cover of “Bad Company.” A power trio out of St. Ignatius High School, Pluto Reinstatement Committee concluded the show with a set of highly original alt-rock tunes.
In no particular order, three winners —Halfway Home, Lack of Focus and Pluto Reinstatement Committee — were announced at the concert’s end and all posed for a photo. They’ll compete again in the “Final Exam,” which takes place on Feb. 9 at House of Blues. You can see the winners get announced here.