The Peak Performance Project 2011

Three BC bands competed for the Peak Performane Project $100,500 dollar prize, but only one could be declared the winner.

Credit: Christine McAvoy

Peak Performance Project 2011: BC Bands Compete for $100,500 Prize

Vancouver is a city starving for a vibrant music scene. With a multitude of fantastic venues—including The Commodore Ballroom, Venue and The Orpheum Playhouse—and talented local musicians, it is difficult to pinpoint the cause of its stagnancy.

Cities like Montreal, Toronto and even Vancouver Island buzz with excitement at their unique and dynamic music communities. Bands on tour consistently come from these cities, and blogs, websites, zine’s, Facebook and Twitter are littered with their names.

If there was ever a time for the Vancouver to get a much-needed resuscitation, it is now.


Peak Performance Enter Stage Left

In 2009, Vancouver’s own 100.5 The Peak established a competition for BC bands to compete annually for a grand prize of $100,500 for first, $75,000 for second, and $50,000 for third. The purpose of the competition is to kick start the careers of 20 deserving bands. Prize money can be used for marketing and self-promotion, recording, going on tour or any other creative way to progress a band’s career.

If selected, bands are awarded $5,000 to invest in their careers and to help prepare for the competition. Nominees perform in the Surrey Canada Day Celebration and head to boot camp in Rockridge Canyon, Princeton BC.


BC Band Boot Camp

Workshop by industry professional Ken Beattie. (Image: PPP Bootcamp)

During boot camp, a community develops between artists and industry professionals. The purpose of boot camp is to educate and prepare contestants for the challenging work required to be successful in the music industry. Team building, promotion and marketing, live performance techniques and music law are just a few of the things bands will be exposed to during the one-week intensive training program.

The top 20 artists are showcased at a variety of venues throughout the city of Vancouver. Judges assess their performance while considering stage presence, musical ability, songwriting, etc.


Peak Performance Finale

This year’s crop of bands was better than ever. After numerous performances and eliminations, three of the 20 bands were selected to perform during the Peak Performance Finale at the Commodore Ballroom to determine the winner of the competition. This year’s top three bands were The Matinee, Current Swell, and The Boom Booms.

The energy was electric as I climbed the staircase at the Commodore Ballroom. Hundreds of people filed into the sold-out venue, which was full to capacity.


The Matinee

Matt Layzell of The Matinee grips his microphone stand (adorned with a rose) during his set. (Image: Christine McAvoy)

First to take the stage was Vancouver band The Matinee. They offered good foot-stomping jams and a fun stage presence. Elements of blues, southern rock and bluegrass echoed throughout their set. They fell short in audience interaction and repetitious songwriting. I enjoyed myself but I expected more from a band in the top three.


Current Swell

Davers Lang of Current Swell. (Image: Christine McAvoy)

Next up was Vancouver Island’s own Current Swell. From the minute they hit the stage I was captivated. It was impossible to take my eyes off the musicians, who were clearly giving the audience everything they had.

During “Cursed”, Scott Stanton, seated at centre stage, owned the slide guitar. Looking into the audience, I noticed a sea of smiles from ear to ear.

Slowing things down, Dave Lang broke into the emotional “Brad’s Song”, written about a lost friend. Beautiful lyrics and delicate guitar picking evoked a somber connection between the audience and band. As the tempo increased during a four-part harmony, the band’s vulnerability was laid out for everyone to see.


The Boom Booms

Aaron Nazrul of the Boom Booms reaches out to the audience. (Image: Christine McAvoy)

Finally Vancouver band the Boom Booms broke into their much-anticipated set. Eavesdropping on circulating conversation during the evening, the overall consensus seemed to be a clean sweep for the Boom Booms. Based on their performance and the fact that they were Vancouver natives, it was understandable.

They pulled out all the stops with beautiful backup singers, amazing song writing, and a stage presence that is one of the best I’ve witnessed. Aaron Nazrul’s perfect tone and imaginative lyrics are just a few of the things that make The Boom Booms great.

Simply put, the band creates music that makes you feel good. They cross genres from Latin to Reggae to rock with everything in between. Their accessible songs appeal to a wide demographic of fans.

Your Peak Performance Winner: Current Swell

At the end of the night it was clear the final decision was not easy for the judges to make, but it was a thing of beauty when Current Swell heaved their oversized $100,500 cheque in the air for all to see. Runner-ups The Boom Booms took home $75,000 and The Matinee netted a healthy $50,000 for their third-place win.

What a great night! How did you feel about the results?