>It’s been 6 days since “whats-her-name” won American Idol. After 5 months of watching and nearly obsessing over American Idol. If you were anything like me you were left 6 days ago wondering what life would be like without your American Idol fix!

Luckily, thanks to Vibe 98.5, I don’t have to wonder. Several weeks ago they launched their $100,000 Star Search Competition, and because Vibe 98.5 plays ever ad-nauseum, I almost subconsciously knew that the last round of the quarterfinals were this past Saturday at Coyotes.

With a wallet thinner then my hairline some friends and I decided to check out the talent competition. We were looking forward to seeing the best that Calgary had to offer, and hopefully a little of it’s worst.

For the last round of the Quarterfinals the audience had 6 performers to choose from. The show started with a band called Alberta House. This band consisted of two
“singers”, one played with an acoustic guitar and the other was the “rapper”. Of course this being Calgary, his raps were the equivalent of me talking really fast after a couple of Grasshoppers. My friend and I joked that they reminded us of the band Everlast. Only because that’s how long it felt like their song was…ever lasting! Ha! Surely this wasn’t the best way to start of the night.

Next up, Jessie Armstrong. The first thing I noticed about her was that she had some rabid fans. They rushed the stage to cheer on their friend. Their cheering continued throughout her performance of India Arie’s “Radio”, unfortunately not enough that we couldn’t hear her. No, maybe that’s a little harsh, she did have a good voice. But a $100,000 voice? At most a couple of twoonies.

The third act of the night was Andy Murphy. After Jessie’s performance, the night really only had one place to go. And Andy did not disappoint. It was so neat to see the entire bar full of people kind of sit up and take notice. For me Andy’s performance took this competition to way beyond a glamorized karaoke competition. His original song called “Homemade Fireflies” was honestly one of those songs that stays in your head well past its original performance. It wasn’t till after that I was informed that a homemade firefly was actually a joint! Catchy and educational, we might have a winner!

Ashley Wanamaker had the, excuse the pun, dubious task of follow Murphy. Aside from her last name setting up a plethora of easy jokes that even I won’t stoop to, Ashley did have a great voice and a nice stage presence. My only complaint about her would be that her version of Sarah Slean’s “Sweet Ones” was practically identical to the original. If I wanted to hear Sarah Slean, I’d go to her concert. I wish Ashley had at least spiced it up a little bit.

Next up was Samantha Cote. Now I’m going to try to put this gently. You know at weddings, when your mom has too much to drink and gets up on the stage and sings with the band and dances around flirty with an awkward amount of men? Well Cote’s performance was like that, only to Christina Aguilera’s “Ain’t No Other Man”. Samantha is definitely a good performer, but she just isn’t write for this kind of competition.

The final act of the night was the four piece band called Shutter. From what I heard from other people in the audience that night, Shutter has slowly been establishing themselves as one of Calgary’s soon to be breakout bands. They certainly didn’t disappoint either, but I say that only judging from the judges reactions. Shutter’s kind of music just isn’t for me. Mostly because I already have to listen to enough Sum 41 and Fall Out Boy. But they were certainly knew how to rock out, now if only I did. Special mention goes to their drummer, who rocked harder than all the acts combined in his 4 minutes on stage! Get that man some Ritalin!

But don’t let my opinion be the end all, although I wish it was. Even though you weren’t there on Saturday night you can still vote. Click Here where you can find all the videos of the performances in Youtube form. Voting opened Monday morning and goes until the end of the week. And you can vote as many times as you’d like! One person will be picked from each quarter final to perform in the semis is a couple of weeks.

The good thing about a competition like this is it could turn out to be very unpredictable, but if I was a betting man, which I’m not, I would have to agree with the judges when they said Andy Murphy was the one to beat.

Mike Morrison