Eight bands of mostly teenagers battled it out Saturday for a chance to represent the area at the Illinois State Fair while fans baked under a hot sun or vied for minimal shade at Lions Park in Cary.
The Cary Area Park District has held the contest for five years, inviting young musicians ages 12 to 21 to compete. Musical stylings varied and included pop, rock and metal.
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Classified Information, a band made up of the cream of the crop at Music Makers for Life studio in Crystal Lake, performed pieces by Adele, Gotye, The Beatles and Alicia Keys in its 20-minute set. Maria Villec of Crystal Lake sang the lead on Adele's hit "Rolling in the Deep." The 16-year-old started out as the keyboardist for the fledgling group but moved into vocals more recently, giving her a chance to focus on her real passion.
Villec said the band's performance Saturday was fantastic.
"We were tighter than we'd ever been," Villec said.
Katie Hughes, director of marketing at the Cary Park District, said it's nice to see such young, talented musicians get experience in front of crowds and gain confidence in their skills.
Some bands have competed multiple times since the contest started, giving audience members a firsthand look at what a year of practice can do to a band's sound.
"It's neat to see bands return year after year, and it's neat to see them improve," Hughes said.
Rachel Lawrence of Cary sat under one of the only trees near the band shell with her 3-year-old and 7-month-old daughters Serena and Rebecca.
Lawrence said she didn't know anyone performing but brought her daughters for a chance to get out.
"It's better than sitting at home," Lawrence said. "And Serena loves running around and dancing."
The winner of the battle, a four-member band called Dead Authority, will represent the Cary area at a regional competition in July and have a chance at the state fair if successful in the second round.