If it wasn’t clear from the first song that the Strain was going to win this year’s Live 88.5 Big Money Shot, then skeptics were certainly convinced when the band played its last.
The Wakefield band was clearly a step ahead of the five other groups competing Oc. 19 for the $25,000 grand prize, and everyone seemed to know it.
A busload of manic Strain fans from the Hills – most of them spiritually refreshed by the time they arrived at the St. Brigid’s Centre in Ottawa – wouldn’t stop shouting, “Strain, Strain, Strain,” as the band plugged in their many foot pedals, guitars, mics and keyboards.
The entire dance floor crowd surged forward when lead singer David Taggart was spotted. A few crazies even started crowd surfing before the band began. Then the lights went down and all hell broke loose.
Their opening dubstep tune, “Untold,” put everyone in a fitful frenzy, grooving to the down tempo beat and penetrating wobble bass coming out of Rylee Taggart’s synthesizer.
The energetic track set the mood for the following four songs, which made for a non-stop, full-frontal assault of dirty progressive indie electro goodness. It only lasted about 20 minutes, but it’s probably all the St. Brigid’s Centre could handle, as things got even crazier when David Taggart got close to the crowd with his wild, head banging hair that whipped and twirled in the lights above.
Nick Johnston’s bass grooves rattled every bone in the body if you were standing close enough to the stage and the floor wouldn’t stop bending, as the band whipped out heavy hitter after heavy hitter.
That’s why it wasn’t so shocking when DJ Noah announced that the Strain was the winner of the $25,000 cash prize, along with the title of the region’s best band this year.
Meanwhile, the band wasn’t so sure.
“Was it okay?” David Taggart was heard asking the hundreds of Wakefield fans who made the trip. Preceding the results announcement, drummer Alex Serre couldn’t stop biting his nails onstage. Rylee Taggart’s hands were in a praying stance and you could see the anxiety in their eyes. These kids really did want to win.
When the winning Strain name was called, the place erupted again. The band members’ faces instantly lit up, and they locked in an embrace, swaying back and forth onstage in a big Strain group hug.
“Thank you, guys, for coming on the bus; you are the Wakefield crew, we love you,” said a stunned David Taggart, pointing to the crush of cheering fans against the stage. “I don’t even know what to say.”
The band spent the weekend partying in Wakefield and they weren’t alone. Drummer Alex Serre’s grandmother, Lillian (Lil) Kelly, told the Low Down that she was going to “party like crazy” if the band won. Serre isn’t the least bit surprised.
“She definitely celebrated with a beer,” he said, still buzzing from the big night. “It’s pretty awesome, she definitely likes to have her two beers. That’s partying for her.”
Once the stardom wears off a bit, the band will get back down to business. With money in the bank, a new album, gear and a tour trailer should help the Strain plan their near musical future.