And then there was one.
On March 1 seven Queens bands competed to represent the borough in the ultimate Battle of the Boroughs, an event on June 21 hosted by public radio WNYC and WQXR.
Two bands were eliminated that Friday two weeks ago, with the remaining five competing for votes online until last Monday when The Dirty Gems were crowned the borough’s star.
Frontwoman Raycee Jones led the group through a tear-jerking ballad. She had a strong look with flashy purple hair to match her sparkly eye makeup and dagger-like heals. And although the three judges seemed to like the instrumental band Sean Nowell and The Kung-Fu Masters the best, they also gave The Dirty Gems big pats on the back.
As for the audience, The Dirty Gems appeared to be the favorite at the live performance.
“We’re over the moon to be representing Queens this summer,” drummer Jack Goode said in an email after the voting. “We did very well last year, but we faced some seriously fierce competition. The band that beat us last year went on to win the whole Battle, so we didn’t feel that bad about losing!”
In 2012 the soul group competed in the Brooklyn battle — because they have members repping equal parts Queens and Marty Markowitz’s borough. They lost to The Brown Rice Family, a rasta-rap band that made everyone stand up and dance, and went on to win the ultimate battle against Queens, Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island-based bands.
The Dirty Gems originally formed in 2007 as a three-person jazz combo for a course at Hoftstra University. They picked up three more artists after graduation to round out the group taking the new ensemble to the 2011 Hofstra University Battle of the Bands.
They won, landing a gig playing with Big Boi, Minus The Bear and The London Souls. The Dirty Gems went on to play all over the city, winning the 2012 Upper East Side Music Festival.
In the months leading up to June’s ultimate battle, the sextet will be finishing up their second record, “Vuja De,” and on June 21 the group will perform the same ballad, “Automatic Heart,” that stole the show two weeks ago.