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On Friday, Niagara University held its fourth annual High School Band Showcase as part of its Live Music Series. The audience was entertained by four different bands competing for a prize package that included a $500 gift certificate to Lewiston Music and performances at next year's Live Music Series and at the Music is Art Festival at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

The four battling bands were each given a 20-minute set to perform for three judges and the crowd. They were judged based on originality, appearance, talent and audience response. A special performance was also given by last year's winners, the Brass Monkeez, and as the reigning champions, they were more than capable of showing the audience why they took home the crown last year.

RePerfection, from Lewiston-Porter High School, was the first band to grace the stage. The band's influences include Metallica and Avenged Sevenfold. The intro for this band included the phrase, "They're ready to mess things up." As the opening band, it was its job to get the fans ready for the night. A set full of metal vocals and intense guitar solos accomplished this goal perfectly.

Next up was a band from Kenmore East -- Wit. The band brought the show from RePerfection's metal to a fun atmosphere with its pop-punk style. This three-piece band had the crowd singing along. Its set contained covers from popular bands such as Green Day and Blink-182. The band shined when all three of the members sang together during choruses.

The runner-up was a band named Casual Affair, also from Lew-Port. Its slower alternative style was matched with great vocals from the lead singer. Its spot in second place was claimed in the originality category. Each of the songs Casual Affair played was an original. This band was very bold and not afraid to put their efforts out there for the audience.

The winning band, the Raven, competed perfectly in each of the categories. Its members are Raphael de Rosa and Dom Sciarrino, both from Niagara Catholic, and Joe Roscetti who goes to Edward Town Middle School in Sanborn.

Originality was also a big category for the Raven. The electric guitars were put away, and two acoustics were on stage for the Raven's set. Its acoustic style is not what you'd expect at a high school battle of the bands, and took some listeners off guard. The surprise was matched with great reactions though. When asked what they would label their genre as, the band members looked at each other, smiled, and agreed upon "acoustic folk."

The Raven is filled with talent. The band members were proud to announce that it was their two-year anniversary, as it formed in March 2009.

Unlike many other high school bands, the Raven has gigs once or twice a month.

The Raven played up the appearance category very well with matching, but distinctly different, outfits. All three were dressed in a sleek form of black and white, a typical concert dress that is supposed to stop eyes from wandering and make more room for the attention to be given to the music. The way the members were dressed also played upon their kind and calm attitudes.

Each member was dressed in something with a different piece of clothing: Raphael wearing suspenders, Dom with a black sweater vest, and Joe with an unbuttoned white shirt and a black T-shirt underneath. It was a way of showing that although they're playing in the same band, each member still has his own personality. When asked to give some facts about the band, the members of the Raven gave some interesting information: Joe, the youngest member, was proud to say he has a black belt; Dom has been playing guitar since he was 8; and Raphael is almost an Eagle Scout.

The audience was impressed by how put together this young band was. When asked to clap or bob their heads along, crowd members were reluctant at first but couldn't help themselves after a few bars. This band was made to entertain crowds.

If you're curious and want to catch a performance by the Raven, its next show will be April 8 at Niagara Wheatfield High School, 2292 Saunders Settlement Road, Sanborn. They will be playing at the Adopt a Family Benefit, which is from 6 to 9 p.m.

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Sara Payne is a senior at Barker High School.