Concert Review: High School Rock Off Round 1 at House of Blues

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Round 1 of the 17th Annual High School Rock Off, which took place last night at the House of Blues, featured a bit of everything. The Better Scene, a crisp-sounding indie pop act from Olmsted Falls started the four-and-a-half concert off with a solid set that featured covers of tracks by Foster the People and Seal. They sprinkled in a few original tracks, too, and the original tracks helped showed off the singer’s understated vocals. While his band mates couldn’t harmonize as well, the songs didn’t suffer too much for it.

Our First Last Chance, a heavy metal act out of Valley Forge followed with a much heavier set that bordered on death metal. Their set ended with “Blue Skies,” an original number that featured parched vocals and dynamic guitar chord changes. The St. Ignatius duo Counting the Days followed them with a low key set that featured a Sum 41 cover and a few good original numbers. The Bakers, a punk band out of Mentor, played such a spirited set that they even got a good mosh pit going, particularly when they played a NOFX cover. Shaker Heights’ Three’s Company got off to a rough start with an a cappella tune that didn’t win the crowd over but once they added the pre-recorded beats, their set took a turn for the better and even included a fun beatbox segment.

While their attempts to sing about drinking from a 40-ouncer required a serious suspension of belief, Westlake’s the Jake Cohen Experience played a blues/hard rock blend that alternately recalled the Black Keys and ’90s rockers Seven Mary Three. Pipe Dream, competition veterans who have participated in the past three High School Rock Off contests, recalled the Fray with their set of original songs that often had atmospheric elements and evoked Radiohead. Led by a female singer with a good voice but not much charisma, Notre Dame Catholic’s Bestfriendmike won the audience over with a set of catchy songs that included a snappy cover of “Call Me Maybe” and a few solid original numbers. Lumpia followed them with a good power trio set that included a Queens of the Stone Age cover and the indie duo Things Like Chemistry proved to be a crowd favorite.

In no particular order, three winners — Three’s Company, Lumpia and Pipeline — 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.

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