There wasn't a single empty seat at the McMenamins Old Church and Pub in Wilsonville this past weekend, as audience members packed the intimate venue, lining the walls and cramming every nook and cranny of the concert hall just to get a glimpse of future rock 'n' roll stars.
Performing their third and final concert of 2017, the eXtraordinary League of Rockers put on a show like they never have before Sunday, with rockers from Wilsonville, West Linn, Lake Oswego, Oregon City, Beaver Creek, Sherwood and Aurora jamming in a
battle of the bands-style competition.
The performance was the final installation of Music Man Studio's inaugural season called "The Showdown," where four bands showed family, friends and the greater community what they've been working on for the past three months. With 17 musicians ranging from elementary school-age to high schoolers — playing every instrument from guitar to drums to the cello — bands performed in front of guest judges.
"I started The eXtraordinary League of Rockers with a simple goal," said Program Director J Ring. "(To) create a fun, but real, experience where kids can find that they have what it takes to accomplish their dreams of performing onstage in real venues. Apart from the significant musical strides they have all made, I have witnessed a strength and maturity rise up in many of these kids that has even taken me by surprise."
Bands picked their own songs, voting on which two or three covers they wanted to play and getting help from Ring. Ring encouraged the four bands to experiment with different types of music before picking their final songs for Sunday's finale.
The eXtraordinary League of Rockers first performed March 5 at "The Show Up," where many young rockers got their first taste of performing for a live audience before a second performance deemed "The Show-Off" on April 9.
Sunday night's culminating performance was a special Mother's Day treat. The Heist went first, made up of band members Liam Anderson, Elijah Givens, Oliver Svadlenka, Lucas Servignat and Caitlin Aranda. It was the first time most had played in a band, which the rockers said was their favorite part of the past three months.
"I like playing music and I've always wanted to be in a band," Svadlenka said. "I liked the idea of it and playing with other people."
"I just like playing with other people and playing music," Aranda added. "I get really nervous before every performance and there were a lot of people out there today."
Thunder Ridge was next, giving a unique performance, even incorporating a yo-yo dance routine into their music. Composed of Ethan Lawson, Kyle Moore, Macy Hubka and Callyn Moore, the band said Sunday's battle of the bands was the perfect way to end their experience, and that they enjoyed listening to everyone else's music for the first time.
"Picking the songs was the hardest part because we wanted to do all of them," Hubka said. "We didn't have time to play every song, so it was hard to pick, but I really liked the songs we decided to play."
Lawson added that he loves "everyone's different styles and how everyone plays."
"This was definitely our best performance," he said. "Having the judges there was a little bit nerve-racking but it kicked up the level of everything."
Rage Against went third, consisting of young musicians Elle McGuire, Mia Rust and Aditi Bhaskar. The trio said they were nervous to begin with, but that any stage fright disappeared as soon as they started playing.
"Probably the buildup was my favorite part," McGuire said. "The first time I did this I was super nervous because I was meeting new people and had to figure out what kind of music they liked. And then you get used to performing as a group and you get this flow with one another."
Incendio closed things out with a band that consisted of different strings musicians. Caroline Pullella, Evelyne Knight, Lakeridge High School sophomore Sydney Thomas, Sydney Phipps and Natie Moore said they most enjoyed getting to better know one another, and will always remember the rehearsal experience that produced many laughs.
"I'll remember some of the conversations we had," Phipps said. "We just had a lot of fun together and played a lot of music."
In the end, it was Incendio who took home top honors, wowing the judges with their combination of strings instruments and rock 'n' roll music. Ask any members of the eXtraordinary League of Rockers, however, and they'll tell you music is more than awards or recognition. All their hard work over the past several months was worth the chance to share their music.
"I think we all did great," Moore said. "It's all been fun, especially our final performance."