On Saturday evening at the Met, Rock Hunt 2015 concluded with incredible performances by our four finalists and a surprise victory from an unexpected place. But let’s start from the beginning:

We Were Astronauts, winners of Rock Hunt Semifinals Night I, took the stage first. Hot off a Home BRU’d session, they were pumped up and ready to go. The five piece band (plus guest bassist Dan Beauchamp, who meshed well with the group) played a full set of their melodic, relaxed, but upbeat songs. Their virtuosity was capped with the huskiness of lead singer Antonio Casasanta’s voice and a jaw-dropping solo by lead guitarist Tim Corrigan. They had fans in the audience—up-front, people were singing along—and made lots of new ones. Everyone was dancing as they came to the end of the set.

Next up, Forest Fires, winners of Semifinals Night III, began with their characteristic synchronicity. However, their set was almost immediately faced with technical problems as the mics began to cut in and out during a song. The always cool-and-collected band handled the interruptions gracefully, letting their heady, atmospheric sound shine through. They almost seemed energized by the challenge: by the end of the set, to the rhythm of one of their most lively songs, they were bouncing along with the audience.

Public Alley, the young and surprising Rock Hunt Wild Card, took the stage next. The five piece band from East Greenwich, RI, was heralded into the finals based on the support of their fans in an online vote: that support was evident before they even played a note as the crowd, packed with friends and family, chanted their names. The band looked overjoyed to be on stage; their enthusiasm radiated into the audience and throughout their innovative, genre bending, guest-artist-studded music. The voices of lead singers Zoe Hinman and Noah Barreto blended and complemented each other beautifully, in a way reminiscent of The xx. Towards the end, though, keyboardist Szabi Kiss stole the spotlight with an incredible rap-cum-piano solo. The final song, “Loretta,” was greeted with cheers, sing-alongs, and calls for one more song.

Most Dangerous Men Alive finished off the night with a polished set. Their fans exhibited merch decorated with their logo and sang along with charismatic lead singer Ben Carter. They glided through the set list, and the audience greeted their favorites enthusiastically: the offbeat reggae-inspired “Lose Control” (with a reference to Rage Against the Machine rather than their usual Lorde), the melodic “Women and Whiskey,” and the audience-and-band-go-crazy punk piece “Price You Pay.” The band touched on several genres, displaying their appreciation for music as a whole.

Tension mounted as the gathered Rock Hunt fans waited to hear the results. Our local celebrity judges—featuring, among others, 2014 Rock Hunt Champion The Rare Occasions—deliberated; the rest of us bided our time. Public Alley had surprised everyone in the audience with their energy and legions of fans, but we had all fallen in love with Most Dangerous Men Alive, Forest Fires, and We Were Astronauts during their Rock Hunt interviews and performances. At last, the BRU staff made the announcement: Public Alley is the 2015 Rock Hunt Champion!

For the first time in recent memory (maybe ever? We’ll have to check the BRU archives and get back to you), our online fan choice wowed everyone in the room and claimed the Rock Hunt crown. Although they only have a few songs available online, we can’t wait to hear what Public Alley do with their $3,500 in prizes from, among other places, Columbus Theater Recording Studio and Empire Guitars. And, of course, we’ll be cheering them on as they play our Summer Concert Series this summer!

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