Live Review

Shred For Your Life, Webster Hall, NY

You can feel the soul.

Shred For Your Life; it’s hard to know what to expect except a lot of guitarists with a ton more skills than yourself. This is the 6th annual battle, and it’s been getting bigger and better every year. Here’s the gist: 12 contestants, three judges, a wheel of destiny for the final round, a completely incomprehensible host and a whole lot of fun.

Before the battle, a punk/rock band called BYS open, up for the guitar battle. Amazing music, and the best part, the oldest member is like 15. Very talented, and really fun to watch. They bring lots of energy, and really tight instrumentals for a punk band playing live. They’re perfect for getting everyone psyched for the battle.

After BYS finish, there’s a hard rock version of the American National Anthem and then the host, dressed as a high school bandleader with a gold turban, comes out and introduces the judges. This is complicated by the fact that you can’t understand a word he’s saying. The judges - Andrew WK, Jaleel Burton (TV on the Radio) and Justin Theroux - even call him out on it, but it’s never fixed, making it hard as hell to tell what’s going on.

Then the fun starts. The first round is divided into 6 battles; the winners of these continue, while the losers get a chance at redemption later on. Each guitarist has the choice of whether to go solo, or to use a drummer and bassist. There are lots of different styles, and again, an incredible amount of skill. It would take too long to give a battle-by-battle description, but it gets whittled down to six players pretty quickly. You can tell that the judges are having a hard time with some of these contests.

One on one battles once again commence to cut the remaining participants down to three. At this point, all of the people who previously lost come up on stage, and one re-enters the competition based on audience response. There are a few great players that have to go. At this point the four contestants left are: Lilly Maze (one of only two last names possible to understand and the only female competitor), Dylan (one of the young teens from BYS), Rusty (another 15 yr old who was brought back by audience approval), and Damien (winner of the contest in 2008).

Here is where the wheel of destiny is brought in to play. Each player has to play with whatever the rhythm section provides, for twenty seconds, blindfolded. There are two head-to-head battles to decide the finalists, and they’re all absolutely amazing, especially given the constraints they’re under. First is Damian versus Lilly. Damian rocks harder, but Lilly’s talent really comes through, and she seems to instantly connect to what is being played. She win, and Justin Theroux praises her playing, saying that she ‘touched his soul’. Then the comes Dylan versus Rusty, and although, once again, they’re both really good, Rusty seems to be thrown off by the gulag aspect, while Dylan plays right into it.

Now the final competition between Lilly Maze and Dylan BYS. They both have the choice to play with the band or go solo again, this time for 90 seconds, and both go solo. Though they both play well again (no surprise there), Lilly really gets through to both the judges and the audience. You can feel the soul that she puts into her music, and that’s kind of hard to do when playing so friggin fast! She wins the contest for this year, and is crowned by the oddly turbaned host to much applause.

Tags: Features

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