Local trio 18 Rabbit won the opportunity to open for the Sheepdogs at Rock the Block next month after beating out 10 other acts in a Battle of the Bands. (SUBMITTED)
After four bands duked it out at The 40 on Wednesday for the brass ring of opening for the Sheepdogs at Rock the Block, one local band rose to the top with a sound that gives a wink and a nod to the early-’90s rock scene.
So it’s fitting for Brandon’s 18 Rabbit to open for the Sheepdogs — the group of four Prairie boys whose heavy guitar riffs (and wardrobe) that hark back to the ’70s.
Aside from this week’s Battle of the Bands, Ryan Felstead, Troy McKenzie and Leslie Mitchell, haven’t played a single live show in over a year, and opening for one of Canada’s biggest musical exports of the last few years will be a satisfying end to the band’s long-delayed gratification.
But it’s not as though the trio hasn’t been hard at work.
"We’re finishing up and mixing our fifth independent album and we’ve taken a year off just to perfect the live show," Felstead said. "And this is what we’ve been working towards."
Felstead wouldn’t admit nervousness about the show.
"It’s a fantastic opportunity," said Felstead, who has been slogging away in the Brandon music scene for 12 years.
"There’s a little bit of trepidation perhaps, just because it’s a big stage and lots of people, but it’s just a fantastic opportunity."
Last year, close to 3,000 people came out to the show for My Darkest Days, Down with Webster and April Wine, and this year is likely to draw at least those numbers.
The Juno Award-winning Sheepdogs will hit the stage downtown on Rosser Avenue on Sept. 13 before taking off to Germany to continue their tour overseas.
"It’s a great opportunity to get out there and play the new material. We’ve been rehearsing twice a week for the last year just to get ourselves ready for shows," Felstead said.
The band beat out nine others over the course of the competition, which was judged by a panel of representatives from KX96, Star FM and the Brandon University Students’ Union.
"We’re ready," Felstead said.
Rock the Block, an annual show put on by BUSU, is one of the city’s biggest parties and will take over Rosser Avenue for a Friday evening.
While September’s show will no doubt be a highlight for 18 Rabbit, Felstead said he’s also excited to hit the stage in the Downtown Hub — something he said has to happen more often.
"We should have more events downtown," he said. "Downtown has been completely underutilized and if we can do rock shows or other events on a more regular basis, what a great way to do it.
"Brandon’s got such an amazing music scene for the size of our city."
The Sheepdogs will be joined by Helix and Dallas Smith. Tickets cost $30 for students, $35 for non-students and $25 in advance.
To purchase tickets, contact the BUSU office at 204-727-9660, or go to the office, which is located on the second floor of BU’s Knowles-Douglas Building.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 23, 2013