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By Rachelle Flava Rae Greenberg, Photos Dave Moto

The Battle of the Bands for 97x’s Next Big Thing took place once again at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Cafe in Tampa. The last time TBMN covered this was two years ago. If you are unsure about what the BOTB is, let me give you a little background. Four local bands play to a room of fans and are judged on five categories: 1) originality, 2) musicianship, 3) vocal ability, 4) stage presence, and 5) audience reaction. The winner of the BOTB receives a trophy guitar along with the most coveted prize to a local musician/band, the opportunity to perform alongside such bands as Glass Animals and Twenty-One Pilots to play at the MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheater for 97x’s Next Big Thing. Judging the contest was Sam Nirenberg of 97x, Hala Bowen of Live Nation and guest judge Sully Erna, lead singer of Godsmack and founder of The The Scars Foundation (who received a $10,000 donation check from the Hard Rock). The Scars Foundations helps bring awareness of mental health issues that so many struggle with today.

First up was VOXX BAND a hard rock band with three guitarists who really set the bar high for tonight’s other bands. Commanding the stage up front was lead singer Regis Lima. Playing their originals such as Frankenstein, made them distinctively stand out from the other bands. How these guys aren’t signed yet is a complete mystery to me!
Next up was Nightbreakers who is a pop-rock band that got the people dancing. Among their original songs, they played one cover song, Bruno Mars’s “Uptown Funk”. Their original song, “Feelings” was a crowd favorite. No lack of talent here.

Pop-rock band Kind Villain took the stage with an overall fantastic visual performance. Playing hits such as “You’re the reason I need pills to sleep”, lead singer and bassist EV is never short on energy and the crowd reacted accordingly. Closing the evening was rock band Kamenar, consisting of twin brothers John-drums & Sean-lead guitar, accompanied by Owen on bass. This three-piece band at one point had the brothers together doing a drum solo that was just incredible. Playing their first original song, “Never Enough Time”, their performance was nothing short of emotional.

But, there can be only one! I’m so happy I wasn’t a judge in this BOTB’s. At the end of the night, Sully announced the winner and who will also be sharing the stage at 97x’s The Next Big Thing … TBMN would like to congratulate Nightbreakers! Each band sounded great, acted professionally, and gave it their all. Another successful BOTB’s in the books. Great job 97x and Hard Rock! Look for TBMN and Flava Rae at the next one, because rocking out is what I do!