Launchpad Wisconsin 2013
Dozens of young musicians and their friends, fans and families flocked to the UW Union South Sett on June 8 for the Launchpad Wisconsin finals, a battle of the bands for high school students. Thirteen groups participated, and each brought a unique playing style to the stage.
Here are some highlights from the event.
The vocals and guitar-work of MU's Korgan Steinke
I've always had a special place in my heart for metal and hardcore music, which tend to be underappreciated. My affinity for these genres makes me critical of formulaic songwriting. Luckily, MU, a metal-loving band from Milton and Janesville, brings lots of originality to the stage.
The distorted lines that cascaded out of lead guitarist Korgan Steinke's amp were glorious. Whether pulling off meticulous sweeps, seamlessly shifting between picked and finger-tapped lines, or just holding the band together, his performance was nearly flawless.
Equally impressive were his vocals. It's not every day you come across someone with this much vocal power. His singing has the perfect timbre for fronting a metal or hardcore band. To me, he was the most impressive performer in the competition because all of his skills meshed together so well.
The stage presence of the Daze's Gabe Burdulis
I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from local band the Daze, who were dressed sharply enough for the prom. But their slick garb certainly matched their a tight and well-thought-out set.
This suave and professional performance was orchestrated by singer Gabe Burdulis. His ability to rouse the audience and connect with them was unparalleled by anyone else in the contest. And he was all over the stage, playing trumpet at one point and even singing into a megaphone. This is not to discount the other three members of the Daze. Their solid playing contributed to a stellar show.
The songwriting of the Viewing Party
One of the most difficult aspects of writing music is creating something that doesn't sound just like its influences. Visiting from Platteville, the Viewing Party may have done the best job of thinking -- and writing -- outside the box.
The group used a pair of laptops to incorporate sound samples, which added texture to their music. With slower tempos and parts that bordered on the territory ambient music typically explores, they weren't a stereotypical battle-of-the-bands entry. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing. They had fresh ideas, and that deserves praise.
Each of the 13 Launchpad finalists gets a 45-minute showcase at this year's Summerfest in Milwaukee. The winning band, Middleton's funky Autumn Underground, also receives free recording time at Madison's Blast House Studios and a $5,000 Yamaha music package for their school's music program.