LiftMaster’s Battle of the Garage Bands


Sin City Escape lead singer Mike Lucciano at Battle of the Garage Bands

Minneapolis’ Sin City Escape and Chicago’s Speedfreak rocked hundreds of fans at Liftmaster’s Battle of the Garage Bands competition in Wicker Park’s 1st Ward on Sunday night.

When the music stopped, celebrity rock star judges Dee Snider and Chip Z’Nuff, along with venerable producer Johnny K, decided that the five-piece outfit from Minnesota was the best of the show.

Layering strong vocal melodies over hard rock rhythms, Sin City Escape’s set included a tribute to the late Chester Bennington and an extended drum solo to help the band claim a prize package worth more than $40,000.

The bill also featured winners from previous years and guest sets by Ladrone and Enuff Z’nuff, the chart-topping, veteran hometown band fronted by bassist / vocalist Chip Z’nuff.

During the show, a check for $13,000 was presented to BOTGB’s official charity, Sweet Relief.

It’s a long way to the top (if you want to rock ‘n’ roll)

Sin City Escape performs at Battle of the Garage Bands

The Battle of the Garage Bands competition officially began in May, when Liftmaster invited bands to submit music videos to the official Battle website. Two rounds of online voting narrowed the participants down to the finalists.

Chicago-based creative shop Affect handled everything from website creation to live show production, with significant digital influencer marketing along the way.

By the day of the show, the competition’s online presence — including the official website, music videos, blog mentions and social media activity — had generated nearly 30 million impressions.

Although the average cost per click-through is still being calculated, Affect Creative Director Robbie Vasquez estimates that it will be less than a third of industry averages.

The prize package that Sin City Escape took home includes gear, distribution, promotion and a recording session with Johnny K, an engineer and producer who has helped bands like Sevendust, Staind and Plain White Ts achieve platinum status.

The judges: Chip Z'Nuff, Dee Snider, Johnny K

Although none of that booty will go to Speedfreak, the Chicago favorite easily won the unofficial title for Hardest Act to Follow at a Live Rock Show.

Their impact began long before the first note was played, when a psychedelic bus borrowed from Reggie’s in the South Loop arrived with a contingent of supporters who traveled to the show from Live Wire, a popular venue down the street owned by Speedfreak drummer Dave Hornyak.

Speedfreak’s loud, tight and fast set was followed chants of “Speekfreak! Speedfreak!” that continued for several minutes.

When official judge Dee Snider addressed Sin City Escape after the show, he congratulated the band for having the guts to perform in front of Speedfreak’s boisterous crowd.

Speedfreak also created a self-promotional video to accompany its musical submission. Featuring lead singer Tommy Kooch in what appears to be an open-chested, green spandex singlet favored by professional roller skaters in the 70s, the one-minute, 24-second piece has generated more than 8,000 views to date.

Speedfreak promotional video

To view ReelChicago’s Facebook photo album of the battle, click here.