Twenty-four bands made their way from the southern and northern tips of California to compete in, but a South County band called POUNDERS ultimately prevailed during the final round of competition on Saturday.
“There were a lot of great bands in this competition and to know that the judges ranked us number one was humbling,” POUNDERS member Alonso Hernandez said. “The camaraderie was something that fueled us during our set. I can honestly say that our set felt like the best 45 minutes we've played as a band in our six years.”
POUNDERS, , is comprised of lead vocalist and guitarist Chris Pounders, bassist and backup vocalist Alonso Hernandez and drummer Justin Imamura.
The band’s fusion of punk, pop and rock, coupled with its creative stage performance induced applause from spectators and some hostility from fans of the band DeathMaster, which competed in the final round along with ILLFUSIoN.
"There will always be disappointed fans when their band doesn’t win, but in the end it’s about the music," 9Lives Co-owner Jorge Briones said.
The winning band was determined through a point system based on five categories: marketing, music/songwriting, professionalism, crowd response and the number of tickets purchased for each band.
Judges also compared each band against the qualities record labels seek in promoting a band, like their level of development and whether they have room to grow, and looked at whether each band had improved over the course of the three-month competition, while also evaluating the efforts band members put forth in promoting their band during the show and in between sets, Briones said.
“There is a lot of discussion that is fairly gut wrenching and honest. In the end, after the scores were tallied and the discussion was had, all four judges agreed unanimously that in their opinion, POUNDERS was most deserving of the win,” Briones said. “If it was just a popularity contest, like most or all of the other battle of the bands, then the result may have been different. However, 9Lives’ goal is to find the best band and not just the one that brought in the most people, which incidentally was POUNDERS.”
Fifty-four people purchased tickets specifically to see POUNDERS, 41 bought tickets for ILLFUSIoN and seven tickets were purchased for DeathMaster.
Another factor in determining the winner was whether each band was able to entertain with smooth transitions between songs, which POUNDERS undoubtedly did with their garbage-can drum performance and eccentrically-dressed dancers, some of which were clothed in furry animal costumes like the ICEE bear.
“We pulled out all the stops and just wanted to create a party atmosphere on stage,” Hernandez said. “Our goal was to break down barriers between ‘band’ and ‘audience’ and make the crowd feel like they were a part of the show and experience.”
POUNDERS will use Saturday’s winnings, which includes 500 bucks and recording time, to complete a second music video for the song Scream And Let It Go from their album Chasing The Sun.
“We had great response from our video with the title track and want to use that momentum to continue promotion on this album and get the word out for our acoustic album,” Hernandez said.
The video is expected to be released sometime this summer.