Maybe it's because I love "The Hunger Games" or because I'm innately competitive, but I'm a sucker for a battle royale, which is why I'm stoked about the fourth Road to Nightfall kicking off next week at Rhythm & Brews.
During each of four preliminary rounds, seven bands will play short sets to try to win over the audience. Each night, the crowd will select a finalist, who will duke it out again on March 21 for a cash prize, recording session and headlining spot during the Nightfall concert series, which runs Fridays from May 2 to Aug. 29.
The Road to Nightfall is great for a lot of reasons.
■ Contests are good for business. People love competition. It's why they root for Rocky Balboa and watch episodes of "Bumfights." Because it's a popular-vote event, fans get to feel involved in the process, and offering a prize encourages bands to bring their A-game. Artists win; audiences win.
■ It's a melting pot. Because it's open to all genres, the Road to Nightfall showcases how eclectic the Scenic City scene is, helps forge new musical partnerships and introduces people to new bands.
■ Bragging rights. Having "Winner of the Road to Nightfall" on a bio helps bands land gigs outside the city, which helps raise awareness of Chattanooga's artistic community. In a sense, the winner becomes a kind of musical apostle.
This year, Chattanooga Presents received more than 60 applications, about 50 percent more than in 2013. Organizers narrowed these down to the following schedule:
■ March 7: The Vino Takes, Birds With Fleas, Danimal Pinson, Iron Fez, Okinawa, Scenic and The Scarlet Love Conspiracy.
■ March 8: Paul Hadfield, Jordan Hallquist & The Outfit, Remembering January, Endelouz, Marlow Drive, The Band Raven and Hot Damn.
■ March 14: Ryan Oyer, Rick Rushing & The Blues Strangers, Eight Knives, Function: With a C, Socro, The Average and Decibella.
■ March 15: Natural Habitz, The Iscariots, Smooth Dialects, Stereo Dig, New Planet, Kindred Pilots and Pack of Wolves.
Although it's a battle of the bands, Chattanooga Presents media coordinator Jonathan Susman says the Road's best feature is -- ironically -- how it brings the musical community together.
"There's a commonality that is discovered," he says. "I hate to even talk about the competition ... because it's the community-building aspects of it that are important to me."
Interested? Each preliminary round starts at 8 p.m., and tickets are $7.
I, for one, am ready. Or as Apollo Creed would say: "Ding. Ding."
Contact Casey Phillips at email@example.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.
Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...