The fifth annual Youth Battle of the Bands returns to the Rainbow Room in Port Alberni this month.
Young musicians will take the stage on Saturday, May 25 and showcase their talents, competing for cash prizes and the chance to perform on this summer’s Five Acre Shaker main stage.
The music competition, aimed at Vancouver Island residents under the age of 25, was started by the Zattzoo Project in 2014 to give local musicians a place to play for their families and friends. The Zattzoo Project, named after late Port Alberni musician Zakkaree Coss, was started by Zakk’s mother, Kimberly Blake, and brother, Dallas Ward after Coss’s death in 2014.
“Zakk used to complain that there was nowhere to play,” said Blake. “It was a niche I was trying to fill for these young rock ‘n rollers who have nowhere to be.”
This year, the prize for first place is $1,000 cash, a professional photo shoot with Darran Chaisson Photography, a promotional video by Kiara Collinge and a spot on the main stage at this summer’s Five Acre Shaker.
“It’s a nice little package,” said Blake.
There are also prizes for Runner-Up, Fan Favourite, Best Cover and five other “Best Of” prizes.
The Battle is open to performers of all genres from Vancouver Island, as long as they are under the age of 25. Competitors can still sign up for the event until May 25 by reaching out to the Zattzoo Project.
Eleven acts have signed up so far, ranging from hip-hop to hard rock. Some of the scheduled competitors this year include Heartsick Royalty (an indie-hardrock band based in Sidney), Blish (another Sidney-based rock band), Mulligan (a four-piece grunge/punk band hailing from Victoria), Swan Ronson (an alt-rock band from Port Alberni) and Sturdy Lemon (a Port Alberni-based alternative/grunge band “with a sour twist”).
“Things change for the kids that enter,” said Blake.
The Battle of the Bands has been hosted at the Rainbow Room for all five years, and Blake says that young performers and their families “love” the venue. Zakk frequently played at the Rainbow Room, and pictures from his last performance now grace the walls in his memory.
“It’s the only time that these kids get to play in a bar atmosphere,” Blake explained. “The owner, Dave [Rutherford], has gone above and beyond. We’re happy to keep working with him.”
The winner of the Youth Battle of the Bands is selected with votes divided between the judges, Zakk’s family and the audience. In recognition of the event’s five-year anniversary, five judges will be returning to the Rainbow Room, many of whom are Battle alumni: Kyle Hamelin of Forever Frost and the Atlas Project, Sean Lyons, Chris Banks of Non Stop Talk and Salt Water Soul, Jason Samson and Johnathan Fascione of Quadra Sound.
“We have people lining up to be the judges,” said Blake.
The show starts at 6 p.m. and is open to all ages until 10 p.m. Tickets for the event are on sale at Double R Meats on Third Avenue. They can also be purchased at the door.
“Battle always seems to sell out, even if it’s the last day,” said Blake. “That proves there’s a need, as well.”