On most Thursday nights in the summer, the Trolley Square mainstay Kelly’s Logan House transforms into a battleground. Over the course of six weeks, 12 local bands—two each night—go head to head as they prepare for Armageddon.
Musikarmageddon, that is.
While the name and the premise might sound intimidating, the actual competition is anything but. Here’s how it works: anyone can nominate a local band for the online voting round. (Really, anyone: this year, 75 bands received 1,200 votes.) The top 12 vote-getters from the first round advance to the live music round, which takes place at the Logan House throughout June and July. The six winners of the live music round play in the August semi-finals, also held at the Logan House, and the three bands that emerge victorious from the semi-final round—plus one wild card band—battle it out at The Baby Grand in September.
To the victors go the spoils, but all of the bands that make it to the live round gain valuable exposure.
“It is a competition in a way, but it’s also more of a showcase for original music in Delaware,” says Chris James of Galaxy 13, a band that has been in the 5-year-old Musikarmageddon multiple times.
Local musician Joe Trainor came up with the idea for Musikarmageddon several months before the first competition, when he was working at The Grand Opera House. Trainor needed a way to generate income for The Grand’s music school, called the Arts Academy.
“I originated it as a way to raise money and to get the word out about the Arts Academy, in the hopes of getting more students as well, but one thing that I’ve really been intent on is fostering the local music scene.”
After two years, Out & About got involved, along with sponsor Miller Lite. The venue was moved from its original location at The Grand, and the length of the competition was expanded.
“This is exactly what we want to happen,” says Jim Miller of Out & About. “This is exactly what it’s all about—trying to boost the local music scene, expose local bands to the public at large and hopefully use it as a springboard for greater things.”
Winning the 2010 competition has proved to be an enormous boon for relative newcomers New Sweden.
When I spoke with New Sweden’s Jimmy Dukenfield, he quipped, “Well, right now, I’m standing outside WXPN, and we just finished playing on the radio with Dan Reed, so that’s how far we’ve gotten [since November 2009].”
The band is currently in pre-production for their first album, due to be released at the end of July.
Thursday night’s show at the Logan house was marked by rockin’ performances from Deadbeatz Inc. and Cubane, although Deadbeatz Inc. ultimately emerged victorious.
The preliminary rounds aren’t just a popularity contest—judges who are familiar with the local music scene provide some unbiased feedback for the bands. Past judges have included local musicians including Trainor and Shaun Dougherty and Out & About editor in chief Michael Pollock.
“The good thing is, it’s not how many votes you get or how many people come to your show, there’s judges to balance it out a little bit, so it’s not solely a popularity contest,” Dukenfield says. “You have to be somewhat good and practiced and rehearsed and write good stuff to impress these judges.”
Perhaps almost as exciting as the bragging rights that come with winning Musikarmageddon is the opportunity to play a venue with a real stage, great acoustics and professional lighting.
“It’s always fun to play at the Grand,” Dukenfield says. “The excitement level is just a lot higher when your doing something at that level.”
To find out more about Musikarmageddon, visit http://outandaboutnow.com/musikarmageddon.