Wild Fire took top honors in a battle of six talented bands Thursday night at the Hard Rock Rising Battle of the Bands in the live-competition round of the international contest.
The four-piece Wild Fire has one member from Biloxi, one from D’Iberville and two from Mobile.
The band was a transformation from the local group Cathercist, which was around for five years.
Zack Sawyer, lead singer and keyboardist, said between the two bands this was their third time to compete in the annual Hard Rock competition.
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“We realized the mistakes we made in the past and learned from our mistakes,” he said.
Each band performed for 20 minutes. Wild Fire created a concert atmosphere with foreboding introduction music, props and platforms. Their performance was nonstop energy, outstanding stage presence and musicianship, well-written songs and powerful vocals.
The band will receive $1,000 and advance to the next level of competition. Sawyer said the money will help further improve the band’s stage show.
“We’re going to have a thousand-dollar-better stage show,” Sawyer said.
The performances were judged by Riley Knight of WCPR, Hard Rock Entertainment Manager Sabrina Nastrini, Kylie Kudray of American Liberty Spirits and Wine, and Walter Brown of iHeart Radio.
Knight said the vote was extremely close because of the talent level of all bands and the variety of music, but she felt Wild Fire had the edge.
“The way they collaborated with each other on stage; they worked well together. No one person was more important than another,” Knight said.
The competition began with Jake Thibodeaux. The five-piece band delivered country music with slide, rhythm and acoustic guitars. Their style was a range of country styles and included a rock-out at the end of one in the vein of Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Kronite’s music was equally good. It was heavy at times, and was often comparable to the alternative rock of the ’90s, such as Firehose.
The nationally touring Project Nine was heavy and fast-paced and bordered on punk occasionally.
GaTa Blak gave a standout performance as the night’s only rap act. The three members were in sync even as they showcased their individual personalities. It was clear they were having a good time on stage.
A Sunday Fire was the final act of the night. They gave Wild Fire a run for their money with their dynamic stage performance. While the drummer madly bashed the drums, the other members were chaotic on the front stage — a reminder of what punk music sounded like in its early days.
Between June 1 and June 7, judges will select one regional prize winner from each region and one grand prize winner.
The grand prize winner will be announced June 14 and the grand prize is a live halftime performance at Miami Gardens, instruments and 1,000 copies of the band’s latest recording or video.