OGDEN -- Hearts were beating to the rhythm of the music Friday night at the Ogden Amphitheater during the 10th annual Battle of the Bands.
The event, sponsored by the Standard-Examiner, brings together the best bands from high schools all over the Top of Utah.
This year, eight bands performed, competing for the grand prize of $500 cash, a $500 gift certificate, $200 donated by hip-hop collective BassMint Pros, and the opportunity to be interviewed and perform live on 88.1 FM, an Ogden radio station.
"The primary purpose is to involve kids that aren't in athletics, that have music as their cool thing that they like to do," said Cami Roberts, an events coordinator for the Standard-Examiner.
"It gives these kids a great advantage to come down and play like professional bands."
Though Good Intentions from Fremont High School belted out its catchy song "Where'd the Rock and Roll Go," it wasn't difficult to find the rock on Friday night. Each band brought its own style to the stage, with a number of talented performers strutting their stuff.
The panel of judges, composed of accomplished members of the music industry, was faced with a difficult decision in selecting the winner. Ultimately, the band Formal, of Box Elder High School, took the grand prize.
"It feels really nice to know that somebody liked us," said Amerah Ames, a senior who plays the electric ukulele for Formal. "We never expect to win things, and then this time we did. It feels good to win."
Spencer Taylor, Formal's lead singer and guitarist, agreed. "It's nice that people like our music. ... When it's judges you don't know, it's a lot more meaningful."
Formal plans to spend the prize money on new equipment for the band, which describes its sound as garage punk, indie and fuzz. Members list their influences as Radiohead, Sufjan Stevens, the Pixies, and the Mountain Goats.
The Defience Theory, which misspells "defiance" to defy social standards, took second place; the Bonneville High band was rewarded with a $250 gift certificate to Newgate Mall.
Third place, along with a $100 gift certificate, went to Davis High's Eat Crow.
Even for the bands that didn't win, the opportunity to get on stage and perform was a welcome one.
"The money wasn't a big deal," said Patrick Pickett, a senior from Northridge and the guitarist and lead singer of SlyFox. "We just came to play and have fun."
And there was no shortage of fun. The event was staged as a professional concert, complete with colorful lights, giveaways and an energetic crowd.
Elijah White, a junior at Bonneville High and the drummer of The Defience Theory, says the enthusiasm was his favorite part of the night. "Our band just had so much energy to work with."
Throughout the night, many from the audience swarmed the stage, dancing to the music and reaching out toward the performers. At one point, a mosh pit even formed in response to one of The Defience Theory's songs.
Fan involvement didn't end there, however. Some people brought along signs supporting their favorite band, and some performers even earned their own fangirls (groupies).
During Formal's performance, one girl called out "You're attractive!" to the lead singer, eliciting a blush from the teen and laughter from the entire audience.
Laughter wasn't in short supply either, with several bands cracking jokes to fill the time between sets.
Audience members could also get free hairstyles from the Paul Mitchell School of Ogden. People of all ages could be seen sporting vibrantly colored hair, including one man whose gray beard was brightened by a splash of pink.
Apart from the prizes and rocker atmosphere, audience members also enjoyed the opportunity to hear various types of music and watch the talented performers.
"My favorite part has been hearing all the different styles of music and seeing how much everyone enjoys it," said Kaylie Asbill, a senior from Clearfield High.
Music styles ranged from metal to punk and indie, and the songs themselves covered a wide array of subject matter. All bands played original songs, rather than covers of another artist's work.
Songs explored issues from love and heartache, with lyrics such as "Go to school and play the fool to be another girlfriend's tool," by Eat Crow, to statements of independence, as with The Defience Theory's "Go ahead and try to stop us."
Bands often combined their music with a good stage presence, dancing and involving the audience members by asking them to sing along or get up and move.
It wasn't hard to "get high on music, drunk on soul," lyrics from one of Good Intentions' songs, with so many great bands performing.
Many band members intend to continue pursuing music.
"Some of them have gone on to play for bigger venues, so it's really fun to watch them progress and grow," Cami Roberts said of past performers.
Justin McEntire, a senior at Davis High and Eat Crow's drummer, loves the opportunity Battle of the Bands provides for beginning musicians.
"It's always a fun thing to come out here, have a great time and just see all the bands, see the people, see how the crowd likes it. It's a really great place to get a start and see how your music goes with crowds."
Kalli Damschen is a staff writer for TX., the Standard-Examiner's teen section.
NOTE: The Standard-Examiner will be selling Battle of the Bands DVDs. Call 801-625-4559 for information.