The 2016 Heart for Hayden Music Fest @Cheers came back with a vengeance after a year hiatus from the show. The yearlong break came after the untimely passing of Hayden Kirk, Rob Kirk’s (the owner of @Cheers) son. Hayden’s passion for music was strong as he often helped out with the event each year, assisting with lights, posters and the video aspects of the event. The bands enjoyed having him around as most everyone did as well! For this year, the event took on a new showcase; a memorial to the one that was there from the beginning; six years ago.
Kicking off October 7, these past few months have been filled with anticipation over just who will move on and come out on top! The first round of the events had many of Denver’s talented local artists, showcasing a variety of styles sure to get the crowd up and moving. With the crowd participation and votes being the only thing pushing the bands through to the next round, it could be said that this was the most crucial and important aspect of Round One. Out of 24 bands, 18 made it through to the next round where the competition would only get stronger. Beginning on Nov 11, in Round Two, the judging would become a little more influenced by the judges (60%), while still taking in the votes of the viewing public of (40%). With these totals, the winners will advance to Round 3, taking with them the notes from the judges on how each individual band could improve on their live show. It was left in the artist’s hands as to whether or not they would accept the judge’s advice or not.
Round Three and the beginning of the semifinals began on December 2 and showcased LowDead, Filthy Heathens, The Cutthroat Drifters, Sideffect Denver, Drone Livingston, Katharsys, Scarlet Canary, River Run, Johnny Got Rox, Michael Morrow & The Culprits, Let’s Face It and Jaded Poet. Giving it all they had, you could see the passion and the desire amongst the bands. Many of them had taken the judge’s written advice and came full force with their set. You could see the crowd amped and dancing to each set, swaying as the music commanded them to, beginning with 24 bands and now down to 12. By the end of the semifinals there would only be four left standing, moving on to the finals and then of course, only one to win the show. On December 10th, those winners were announced and the final four that moved on to the finals were LowDead, Drone Livingston, Scarlet Canary and Michael Morrow & The Culprits.
On December 16th, 2016, those four bands each took the stage. After months of buildup, the day was finally here. The accumulation of crowd participation and winning over the judge’s week after week had paid off and gotten them all to this point. Opening up the show were the winners from the 2014 battle of the bands Pride in Pieces. Playing to a packed house, they lit up the stage. With powerful chords and dynamic drums, they had the crowd on their feet in no time, providing a most excellent start to the evening. With such little time between each set, they wrapped up and began loading off the stage. Next up was Scarlet Canary. They took the stage and quickly set up their scene. The crowd was already excited and before they began, you could feel the anticipation in the air. Opening up with a heavy hitter, Hannah’s melodic vocals blended smoothly into her intense growls. Inside of cheers; the crowd goes crazy! This was the most packed I had ever seen the house get. Not only was the dance floor covered but so was every other area of the place. Next up was Michael Morrow & The Culprits. Some would consider them the oddball of the lineup, only because their sound is much more southern rock than metal, offering a nice switch up for the night’s event. Usually commanding a large crowd, they played some of their fan favorites and closed out their set. Drone Livingston taking the stage next, bringing in some of their own heavy hitters. It was evident as the house came alive once again and began to move and sway to the sounds. Energetic and kinetic, they captivated the people and closed out strong. Last up on stage, but certainly not least, was LowDead. With their stunning stage presence, accompanied by a light-show and background that would change visuals along with the music, you could see how they made it to the finals. Already invoking such talent, I could easily see them opening for bigger names. This had to have been a very difficult decision for the judges to make. With this being the finals, the judges had more weight voting than the crowd, though the crowd votes were still being taken into consideration.
After LowDead closed out there set, you could begin to feel the anticipation in the air as the judges deliberated over their scores. The weather outside had gotten rough over the course of the evening, dumping about five inches of fresh snow on the ground. Although some had to go due to the weather, a majority stayed and you could feel the crowd getting so excited to hear the winners announced in respective order. Scarlet Canary took the win gaining $6500 in prize money, Drone Livingston took 2nd gaining $3000 in cash, LowDead took 3rd winning $2000 in cash and Michael Morrow & The Culprits took 4th gaining $1500 cash. Along with winning the $6500 cash, Scarlet Canary also won 24 hours of studio time with Evergroove Studios which they so kindly donated to LowDead. It is always great to see bands support each other in such a way! Not only did they give away their studio time but they also generously donated their door money to our charity as well. Competition is only a perspective, dedication and commitment pay off and this event helped raise $3000 for Judi’s house, a charity close to the Kirk family’s heart.
Special thanks to all those who were involved, including WorldViral Tv, Evergroove Studios, 24 Hour Bail Bonds, Play It Again Music, Blunt Force Stereo, Event Star Productions, Dean Guitars Jagermeister and Fireball.
Make sure to not only check out the pictures we have online but give the Denver Xposer Magazine page a ‘like’, as well on Facebook! Hope you enjoyed the read and until next time……
Photos by John Root
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