Get Syrius? Maybe

Syrius Jones

Syrius Jones

The very idea of a battle of the bands is a strange one. Bands play their songs live onstage and are judged by representatives from the music industry based on criteria ranging from stage presence to sound. To some, the idea of ranking bands is completely foreign to the art of playing music. Some feel that such competitions are beneath them, that the idea of a battle of the bands is too artificial, too staged, too fake.

But a “battle” is, at heart, merely a way of generating publicity—a media event that seeks to make live music into something of a live game show and, in doing so, hopes to reach people who might not ordinarily go out to a live-music venue.

So it is with the radio station 100.5 the Zone’s Battle of the Bands, held every Wednesday night at the PowerHouse Pub in Folsom. Last Wednesday saw the end of the initial round of this series, with the winner moving on to the finals next week. The prize? A side-stage slot at Sleep Train Amphitheatre to open for a big-time musical act. For a local band, it’s certainly something worth fighting (or playing) for.

The bands that reach the semifinals are good ones. The question, then, is what makes one band “better” than the next. As an example, take Syrius Jones, the trio that did not win Wednesday’s semifinal round. Syrius Jones’ music sits pretty solidly in the upbeat-rock camp, with strong influences coming from both funk and blues. It is a serviceable band—not groundbreaking by any stretch but competent at playing what is essentially party music. (Take a listen to hooky and melodic “Sunshine” at for a representative sample.)

But if Syrius Jones has one big problem to work through (and it is perhaps the reason the band was passed over during the battle), it is one of tempo. For inexplicable reasons, the tempo of the songs in the band’s live set seemed to waver, often slowing down just slightly between verse and chorus. For a party band, the tempo is, in many ways, the most important aspect (people can’t dance if the beat is irregular), so it is something the band will need to address immediately if it is going to continue to build a following.

Despite these concerns, Syrius Jones is worth looking for if you’re in the mood for relatively innocuous upbeat party music. The band will troop on with a full calendar of shows in September and October. Meanwhile, Wednesday night’s Battle of the Bands winner, Downboy, will compete in the final round on September 17 at the PowerHouse Pub. More information is at

Thanks to David A. Kulczyk for filling Clubber in on the death of Five Minute Ride guitarist Alex Poole last month. This news is particularly heartbreaking because the band’s debut release from Sacramento independent label 720 Records will be out soon. Judging from its calendar, though, the band is marshaling its resources: Gigs in Cameron Park and Roseville are scheduled for October. More information is at