Band X: Local bands battle to make the stage at Live X '11

Fort Myers band Day Minus 7 on stage at Royal Key Bar & Grill in Cape Coral on Monday, March 14, for Round 2 of 'Local X.' The 99X-sponsored contest will determine the opening band for Live X '11, the multi-band rock concert at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers on April 1. (Chris Bradshaw/Special to the Daily News)

Fort Myers band Day Minus 7 on stage at Royal Key Bar & Grill in Cape Coral on Monday, March 14, for Round 2 of "Local X." The 99X-sponsored contest will determine the opening band for Live X '11, the multi-band rock concert at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers on April 1. (Chris Bradshaw/Special to the Daily News)

Final round of Local X

What: A battle of the bands competition. The winner gets a spot on stage at Live X ’11.

When: 8 p.m. Monday

Where: Royal Key Bar & Grill, 1306 Cape Coral Parkway E.

Admission: Free

Information: 541-8102

Live X ’11

What: A concert featuring Seether, Hed PE, Hollywood Undead and Pop Evil

When: 5 p.m. April 1. Gates open at 4 p.m.

Where: City of Palms Park, Fort Myers

Admission: $25

Information: 495-2100, 99xonline.com

One homegrown rock band will open this year’s Live X ’11 concert and share the stage with four national recording artists.

At the start, all that separated the lucky band from the coveted slot was 14 other bands, four rounds of competition and a few finicky judges. Now, it’s only one week and five other bands. The six finalists are: Strange Arrangement, Fellowbliss, Day Minus 7, Nine Mile Drive, Venejer and Team Cybergeist.

Alt-rock station 99X conceived the idea to kindle the local rock music scene. So before the curtains go up on Live X ’11, Local X will showcase some of the area’s best talent. More than 30 bands from Naples to Sarasota sent in demos. That number was cut in half before the competition got started.

“We’re excited,” said afternoon DJ Alexis Papadopoulos, who hosts the contest at Royal Key Bar & Grill in Cape Coral. “There are some great new bands. It was so tough to choose only 15 for the contest. At the first round, I got to see two great bands I’ve never heard of before, Voices and Sailing with Ghosts. I’m impressed with what’s out there.”

Live X ’11, a multi-band outdoor rock concert, is set for April 1 at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers. The annual event typically draws several thousand rock fans. This year’s headliner is multi-platinum band Seether, known for such chart-topping songs as “Fake It” and “Rise Above This.” The band’s latest album, “Holding on to Strings Better Left to Fray,” drops May 17.

Also on the bill are three bands making return trips to Southwest Florida. Hollywood Undead played the old Ricochet in Fort Myers while Hed PE played outdoors at Patio De Leon. Pop Evil opened for Judas Priest at Germain Arena. The final band on the bill is to be determined.

Out at Royal Key for round two of Local X, the air was filled with camaraderie, not tension.

“Most of us know each other from the live music scene,” said Cliff Newton, lead singer of Fort Myers band Day Minus 7. “We’d love to win, but it’s not why we’re here. To us, it’s another show. We’re here because we love to do this.”

Newton likened the competition to hanging out with pals playing pool.

“If all you care about is winning the game, grinding and fighting, I mean, what’s the point?” he asked.

A moment later, Jose Garzon, guitarist and vocalist of Cape Coral trio FLF, walked by carrying a guitar case and some cables. Newton spoke up so Garzon could clearly hear him.

“We’re like a family around here, right?” he asked.

Garzon turned around with a smile and pointed to the Day Minus 7 T-shirt he was wearing.

Newton summed up Local X: “We should all be grateful for this opportunity.”

Sharing that credo was singer Steve Cook of Fort Myers band Snicklefritz, the first band of the evening.

“Stick around for all the bands,” he said to encourage the audience. “Because they’re all awesome!”

Cook has been gigging the area for more than 10 years. And you can’t get more local; he was born at Lee Memorial Hospital. Cook remained in the crowd cheering on the four other bands.

After Arcadia band Nine Mile Drive wrapped up a high energy set, a wide-eyed Papadopoulos smiled and said, “Wow, we’re going to have some tough decisions at the finals.”

The final round is Monday at Royal Key. The winning band will be on the big stage four days later.

Chris Bradshaw is a Bonita Springs-based concert photographer who loves to shoot the show. He’s covered local bands in tiny smoke-filled bars, U2 in a sold out stadium and everything in between, from Andrea Bocelli to Rob Zombie.

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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