Battles Of The Bands rarely resemble actual battles. They tend toward unadulterated popularity contests with size of entourage the greatest weapon and winners rarely in doubt. Of course, the Slants aren't your average band. Nine months after rocking Reed house parties, they've an international tour of Asian/anime conventions throughout the United Sates, Mexico, Canada, Taiwan, Japan, and Australia as well as a DVD docc, limited edition EP and a new album to be recorded before the end of the year. And, if they could get there, a place in the NW regionals of Bodog Music's (an online gambling site with a music wing) second Battle Of The Bands last Saturday.
As the competition started, half their members were still stranded en route to Seattle, but, after a last-second rescue from hometown friends, our synth-pop samurai arrived just in time to assemble their strobes and Rising Sun-festooned stage risers (and borrow drumsticks and bits of gear lost in transit). Nothing worse than playing last at these sort of events—since nearly everyone comes to choose their friend's band plus two random acts, most of the crowd had already voted. Frontman Aron swaggered upon stage, grabbed the mic, and said: "Hey, we're The Slants. I see that the ballot box is already full. Thanks for voting for us."
And, somehow, after a typically face-melting set of hardcore dance culminating in trashed gear, The Slants emerged victorious. They were the only primarily Asian band—"I guess if we didn't win, we could always play the race card!" bassist Simon Young admitted—and the only one to feature a girl, their burgeoning national cult certainly helped (east coast acolytes purchased tickets simply to vote for The Slants), but, mostly, midst a slew of trad rock groups, their distinct retro stylings seemed all the more fresh.
The Bodog finals are March 12 in Los Angeles, with performances filmed for reality TV and winners (and that million dollar recording contract) selected from a panel of expert judges and industry guests, plus votes from the audience and fans that have enlisted online
. Heady stuff, but, after this weekend, we wouldn't bet against them. Go for the gut, Slants. They're soft there.