Not a Bad Battle? Sixty-four local bands paid $70 each to participate in the Emergenza Music Festival. The first of eight preliminary battle-of-the-bands competitions began at O’Connells on February 23 (eight bands on eight separate nights at the club).
“They heard about us through MySpace,” says a member of one of the bands that participated. “They contacted us.… I went down to meet this Christine lady at Guitar Trader in Kearny Mesa for an orientation meeting with the bands. I gave her the $70 admission fee.”
Each band was given 300 tickets to sell at $10 each. There were no free guests allowed unless the band sold at least 30 tickets and turned in the $300; then they were given 10 free tickets.
“A lot of the bands who didn’t have any fans brought their moms and dads and families,” says another musician whose band did not advance to semifinals. “There were literally grandmas and grandpas all over the place.… We only spent $17.50 per band member, so I guess it wasn’t so bad.”
Each band gets 25 minutes onstage. The top 4 bands are selected at each competition by raised hands in the audience; those 32 bands go on to play four semifinal rounds at Brick by Brick. The other 32 get nothing.
Kristine Gottselig is the West Coast manager of Emergenza. She oversees the competitions and says judges will be used only for the finals (to be held at a venue not yet named). Gottselig says the $4400 collected from the 64 local bands and the income from ticket sales ($10 presale/$15 at the door) are needed to cover venue expenses.
“The prices of clubs and all the staffing is very high,” says Gottselig, who, along with O’Connells owner Rick Lalama, did not want to disclose their arrangement.
Gottselig says the winner of the local Emergenza final will go on to play a regional round at the Key Club in L.A. with winners from other cities. She says the overall winner of Emergenza wins the following: a show at South by Southwest; airplay on a New York classic rock station; an opportunity to play the Taubertal Festival in Rothenburg, Germany, in August; an all-expenses-paid mini-tour of Europe; and a recording session at a studio in Sweden.
Bass player Chuck Holiday’s band, Two Word Name, won last year’s local Emergenza competition.
“We got to play venues like the Key Club in L.A. and 4th&B,” says Holiday, “venues that we wouldn’t have got to play otherwise. People recognized us more after it was over.”
The Emergenza prelims continue at O’Connells on March 15, 16, and 22.