March 11th, 2012
Zachary Shimizu and Elijah Oguma may not have looked very intimidating as they set up at the Hard Rock in Waikiki on Saturday night. But those who faithfully follow the duo around Honolulu knew better; the party had yet to start. Once Oguma got his trademark drums and microKORG synthesizer going and Shimizu got his pair of acoustic guitars in tune, the crowd was treated to the kind of folksy, funky rock goodness that has earned them a significant amount of buzz since the release of their EP, "Invent," in December.
Both Jamie Gallo and the Paradise X Band and 82Fifty, the other two local semifinalists in this year's battle, brought their best efforts to the Hard Rock. Gallo and Paradise X were the elder statesmen (and woman) of the three bands, reuniting solely for the purpose of entering "Hard Rock Rising" after last playing in Honolulu together decades ago. Still, the band held their own, working the crowd and exhibiting a stage presence that reminded more than one judge of the type of performance common at the old Wave Waikiki during its heyday.
82Fifty drew the biggest crowd of the three, packing the narrow space between the judges' table and the stage with a swarming mass of sweaty bodies squarely focused on rocking out with the band they all came to support. The Pearl City quartet consisting of Max Paguio and brothers Jessie, Jeri and Ritchie Campania kept the energy high throughout their set, encouraging their fans up front to sing along while exhibiting the type of musicianship necessary to impress the judges, which included Oahu Concierge Magazine publisher Pam Davis, Star 101.9's DJ Maleko, Young's Market events and promotions director Christa Wittmier, this reporter and a panel of supporters from each of the three qualifying bands.
With the win, Sing the Body receives $500 cash and $500 in Hard Rock Cafe gift certificates, plus a promotional package on music site Reverbnation.com. More importantly, they move on to the global round of competition in "Hard Rock Rising," where local winners from around the world will post one song for the public to download via the official Hard Rock Facebook page.
The 10 bands with the most votes between April 9 and April 24 will be named global finalists and move on to one last round of judging by a panel of celebrities and industry professionals. In early May, one band will be named the grand prize winner and receive the opportunity to perform at this year's Hard Rock Calling Festival in Hyde Park, England.
Jason Genegabus is Entertainment Editor/Online at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.