Motif’s First Band Battle: Music v. Weather

Friday, May 19, was cold, but great performances warmed up the evening, thanks to the talented tune-spinners David Tessier and the All-Star Stars (or possibly the All-Star Band of All-Star Stars), Guess Method, Baby Baby Explores the Reasons Why that Gum Is Still on the Sidewalk (whom we will henceforth call Baby Baby) and Sasquatch and the Sick-A-Billys.

Hundreds turned out early for the Mulligan’s Island Food Truck Friday by Ocean State Food Trucks, a weekly event featuring more than 20 trucks serving everything from baked potatoes to ice cream, dog treats to super-smoothies, plus games and rides for the kids.


As the weather chilled, the bands toughed it out, consummate performers to the end. Tessier brought a classic-rock feel and full sound befitting the band’s extensive experience in the local and regional scene. Guess Method carried an easy-going jam vibe that had everyone grooving. Baby Baby is different in many ways, but won the crowd over with remarkable stage presence, improvised antics and a unique combination of electronica and indie that pushed the speakers to the limit. And Sasquatch brought their legendary power and hard-country vibe that’s made them a regional staple for years.

Saturday featured gale-force winds, sheets of rain, and no music whatsoever – but Sunday decided to make up for that soaking debacle with perfect, sunny, 70-degree weather.

The second round of our inaugural Battle of Bands took place Sunday afternoon, and the finals were Sunday evening. After enthusiastic performances by garage-indie 7-person Meridian, which included amazing vocals and the most enthusiastic tambourinist we’ve seen in … maybe ever, the perfectly named Eclectic Electric, the always stunning prog-rock of Appalas Eclipse and the punk-tronica stylings of the Artist Jackie and the Wizard (who would absolutely have won best dressed, if that were a thing), the audience vote came down to a difference of only three votes. 

Jumping into the unanticipated gap between round 2 and the finals we had the acoustic guitar stylings and original music of Motif writer Trevor May, a member of numerous bands and a solo artist in his own right, who bravely leapt into the space between sessions (Thanks, Trevor!)

Then the finals featured some of the best live sets this writer has seen locally. Tessier, Baby Baby, Meridian, The Artist Jackie and wildcard Sasquatch set the guitar strings and drumsticks on fire. 

While our math brains furiously tabulated ballots, the glow-in-the-dark Providence Drum Troupe took to the field with their signature energy and antics from stilt-walker dancing (go Rose!) to twirling and drum moves that border on martial arts. The troupe brought the evening home with their contagious love of all things musical.

With 116 votes cast, every band had their fans – in the end, relative newcomers Meridian walked away as the winners of Motif’s first ever Battle of the Bands, with a $2,000 prize, giant trophy and their place in history. They were followed by David Tessier and the All-Stars and Baby Baby. Every performer left at least one catchy refrain lodged firmly in the minds of the audience.

Winning Band Meridian with their trophy (Eric Barao)

Partners and sponsors made this Battle possible. Sound engineers Pauly Danger and Cory Demanche made everyone sound fantastic and had great patience with our less experienced roadies. Michael, Nick and Cam provided the hospitality and support Mulligan’s Island is known for, as well as the field and staging where all the magic happened.

Motif was also excited to partner with Providence Community Radio, which includes Brown Student Radio, the closest thing RI has to the old WBRU, whose legendary Rock Hunts are sorely missed and were the spiritual inspiration for Motif to take on a Band Battle – we couldn’t find anyone else interested in taking up the mantle for local musicians, but we will never forget the BRU legacy.

Sponsors R1 Indoor Karting and Mulligan’s Island made the grand prize possible, and Rudy’s Music Complex and Corey Demanche sponsored the sound equipment, while volunteers including Scout and Mary Lyons, heavy-lifter Paul Rochford, the always-charming Colleen and Steve Mulligan (no relation to the Island), tabulator Victoria Lankford, livestreamer Michael Bilow and videographer Eric Barao. The whole event was tied together by MCs John Fuzek, the Rev Al Mighty, David Lee Black and incomparable event manager Tess Lyons.

We were thrilled to see over 200 people come out just for the live music. Dear readers, let us know if this is something you’d like to see happen again – email with any encouragement, discouragement, suggestions, etc.

David Tessier and the All-Star Stars (James Lastowski)
David Tessier and the All-Star Stars (James Lastowski)
Members of Baby Baby (James Lastowski)
Member of Guess Method (James Lastowski)
Meridian (John Fuzek)
Members of Appala’s Eclipse (John Fuzek)
Sasquatch and the Sick-A-Billys (Eric Barao)
Artist Jackie and the Wizard (John Fuzek)
Eclectic Electric (John Fuzek)
Drummer of Eclectic Electric (John Fuzek)

You can catch Meridian and judge for yourself at Narragansett Brewery on June 8, Askew on June 15 or Revival Brewing on June 28. Follow @meridian.makes

Follow David Tessier and the All-Star Stars @allstarstars, Baby Baby Explores the Reason Why that Gum Is Still on the Sidewalk @babybaby_explores, Sasquatch & the Sick-A-Billys at, The Artist Jackie and the Wizard @theartistjackie, Appalas Eclipse at their monthly residency on the last Thursday of the month at Pump House Music, Eclectic Electric at, Guess Method @guessmethod and People Eating Plastic @peopleeatingplastic.