5 teen bands ready to battle it out | MukFest

By Nicholas Johnson | Sep 06, 2017
Courtesy of: Esoson Esoson will perform again this year during the Battle of the Bands, but will not compete. Pictured from left is guitarist Gabe Brooks-Lopez, drummer Chance Monaghan, guitarist Josh McAdams, bassist DJ Rough and vocalist Sara Herrschaft. McAdams, Monaghan and Brooks-Lopez are all Kamiak alums.

Five bands will compete for the privilege to wield the coveted golden “Kamiaxe” at this year’s teen Battle of the Bands.

The 11th annual Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival contest will be held from 7-11 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9, at Rosehill Community Center, 304 Lincoln Ave. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Four bands from around the Puget Sound will each perform a 30-minute set at this year’s Battle of the Bands: Blinded by Color, the School of Rock House Band, Terrace Funk Combo and CounterProductive and Muskaan Swaroop. A sixth band, Esoson, will perform but not compete, while a seventh musician, Jeffrey Graham, will open the show.

“This show has become like a tradition for us,” said Esoson guitarist Josh McAdams, who graduated from Kamiak High School in 2013, as did fellow guitarist Gabe Brooks-Lopez (2012) and drummer Chance Monaghan (2014). “I remember going to this same festival show in 2009 before Rosehill was rebuilt. That show was in the basement and it was filled to the brim.”

Esoson, which plays progressive metal influenced by bands such as Tool and Meshuggah, hasn’t competed in the Battle of the Bands since 2011, and McAdams said he can’t recall if they won that year or not. But that’s not what keeps him and his bandmates coming back each year to perform. Instead, it’s the nostalgia they feel for the first show they attended as teens in 2009.

“For a high school kid who is into rock and punk, the basement was like the quintessential place for a show,” he said. “The energy was crazy. And to see people who are not much older than you playing music was such a cool experience. I think that’s why we always come back to play this show. It was so much fun for us when we were younger, both to attend and to play in. Now, we just want to keep that alive.”

After playing their first Battle of the Bands in 2011, McAdams, Monaghan and Brooks-Lopez, all of whom had previously been in the Kamiak marching band together, decided to form a band.

“Chance and I had written some songs and we were just the two of us were going to play, then two weeks before the show we decided to fill out our line-up,” McAdams said. “From there we decided to start a band. We began writing our own tunes and it just evolved from there.”

Soon, the band grew to include bassist DJ Rough and vocalist Sara Herrschaft. In June, the band released its first full-length album, “Sound Within.” And while the band has returned to play Mukilteo’s Battle of the Bands each year since, winning has never been a priority.

“We don’t really worry about winning,“ he said. “We just like to play the show because it’s like the first show we ever did together.”

This year’s competing bands are surely in it to win it. They’ll be judged by a panel of professional musicians and music instructors.

Points are awarded for Best Bass, Best Guitar, Best Drums, Best Vocals, Best Auxiliary and Best Band. An audience vote adds points to the band’s overall score.

Many bands from Mukilteo have previously claimed the Kamiaxe, a gold-plated guitar and plaque of all the winners’ names. Mukilteo band Space Cadets won in 2014. Mukilteo’s The Flip Side won in 2015. Both of those bands have since disbanded.

This year’s lineup includes CounterProductive, a softcore punk rock band that is composed of Kamiak High School students, as well as Muskaan Swaroop, a singer and songwriter who recently graduated from Kamiak.

Blinded by Color of Tacoma combines classic blues and rock with modern pop influences. The band is comprised of Dominic Domiano on vocals and guitar, Sidney Knapp on guitar, Jaycob Saum on drums and Forrest Tufte on bass.

Like Esoson, Blinded by Color released its first full-length album in June, called “Only Lover,” and has been touring around the Pacific Northwest to promote it. Unlike Esoson, the band’s members range in age from 14 to 18.

The School of Rock House Band is composed of students at the School of Rock in Seattle, while Terrace Funk Combo is composed of students from Mountlake Terrace High School, as well as one member from Kamiak.

Opening the show is Jeffrey Graham, a Vancouver singer and songwriter who taught himself to play guitar. He combines a mix of three instruments – guitar, piano and ukulele – to perform a variety of songs by artists such as Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith, while also performing originals.

The winning band will get the opportunity to play at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 10, on the Children’s Stage.

Event chair Johanna McManus said it was hard to find teen bands to sign up for this year’s contest, so there was only one requirement: All members must be 13-20 years old.

The contest, sponsored by the Kamiak Performing Arts Boosters, benefits the Kamiak show band and color guard. The contest raises about $2,500 each year.

Tickets are $10. You must be at least 13 years old. Purchase tickets at the door.

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