Last summer, Last Band Standing swooped into Bend from out of nowhere, attracted thousands of people to a downtown bar to listen to local music, and crowned energetic hip-hop act Mosley Wotta as champion of the all-genre, multi-week battle of the bands.
Along the way, LBS firmly — and somewhat unexpectedly — established itself as a significant player in Central Oregon's music scene.
This year, LBS is back, hoping to recapture the magic. Beginning tonight, 32 mostly local bands — from punk, rock and pop to country, folk and blues — will gather in small groups over seven weeks to compete against each other for audience votes and “wild card” passes issued by a panel of judges. Eight to 10 acts will move on to semifinal rounds on June 24 and July 1, with the finals scheduled for July 15. (There is no event on July 8.)
The contest's champion will win more than $8,500 in prices, including time in a recording studio, a cargo trailer to haul tour gear and other stuff, plus the title of Last Band Standing. More than $12,000 in prizes will be awarded to the top four finishers.
While the competition's format is staying generally the same, there are a few changes in store for LBS this year. First, it's happening on Friday nights (not Thursdays). Second, it's going down at Century Center, the new(ish) venue behind Cascade West and the new U.S. Bank on Southwest Century Drive in Bend.
Third, admission is now free, but you have to pick up a ticket at one of the sponsor locations (see details below).
A ticket in hand doesn't necessarily mean you get in, either. If the place is packed, you'll have to wait for someone to leave. So organizers encourage an early arrival to ensure entrance, and with voting planned for after the final performance of each night, that'll make for some long evenings at the Century Center.
My advice? While away the time not with your lips chattering or your eyes wandering, but with your ears open to the vibrant and varied wonders of your local music scene. You might just find something you love. And that's worth to these bands than your vote. Or at least it should be.
Where to get tickets
More info: http://bit.ly/LBS11
The Brew Shop, Bend
The Human Bean, Bend
Law Office of Andrew Harris, Bend
Miller Ford-Mercury, Madras
Oregon Spirit Distillers, Bend
Pack, Ship & More, Bend and Prineville
Rockin' Dave's Bagel Bistro, Bend
The Source Weekly, Bend
The Summit Saloon & Stage, Bend
Sunday Guitars, Bend
U.S. Cellular stores, all locations
Volcano Vineyards, Bend
Westside Texaco, Bend