This Thursday, Rusty’s Surf Ranch will host another group of bands in its fifth and final week of the preliminary round of its 15th Annual Emerging Artist Competition.

This week’s bracket includes four bands, each playing a 30 minute set, starting at 8 p.m.: Night Lights, The Strands, Future Lovers and The Black Noise.

Continuing a tradition that began in 2011, when the Rusty’s EAC winner opened for the band Dawes, the winner of the competition will open one of this year’s 10 Twilight Concert Series summer dates. The EAC first runner-up will win a $500 showcase gig on Rusty’s stage.

Night Lights will kick things off at 8 p.m. The band is comprised of Mau Jimenez (vocals), Yusuke Sato (guitar), Jeff Kinsey (bass), Dag Hanken (drums). The band first met while attending college in Boston. They band said they are influenced by “life – love, sadness, happiness, growth, family/ friends, culture, etc.” “Musically, we are inspired by the likes of Mutemath, Radiohead and Two Door Cinema Club.” They compare their sound as “Mutemath meets the 1975.” The band members are from all around the world, with Jimenez originally from Mexico, Sato from Japan, Kinsey from San Marino and Hanken from Norway. “We love to play and put on what we hope is a high-energy, danceable show,” the band said when asked about playing at Rusty’s. “[We] can’t wait to hit the stage in every round, and hoping to make it all the way to the big stage on the pier this summer!” For more information on the band go to,

The Strands will come on stage at 8:45 p.m. According to their website their sound is similar to Amy Winehouse, Sade and Tracey Thorn. The band met in late 2011 and is described as having been gaining “critical acclaim” with their “genre-defying sound” that they like to call “Artisanal.” “With an emphasis on thoughtful and provocative lyrics The Strands groove as lead singer, Amanda Campbell, delivers their original material with passion and style. Alongside West Coast Blues Hall of Inductee, Richard Green on lead guitar playing elegant and restrained rhythms and solos, is pianist, composer, songwriter, teacher and poet, Susan Ferrari on keys and background vocals. Joining The Strands is outstanding drummer, Lance Tamanaha, and Strands’ founder Paul on bass.” For the competition at Rusty’s Reed Pucket is sitting in for Ferrari on keys. “The Strands are thrilled to be a part of the competition and cannot wait to throw it down at Rusty’s,” Campbell said. “Playing on the Main Stage would be a dream come true for all of us!” For more information on the band, go to

Next up will be Future Lovers at 9:30 p.m. The band includes Val Macias (songwriter/front woman/synths.), Patrick Simon (keys/synths/vocals), Henry Muehlhausen (bass/vocals), Steve Crane (guitar) and Matt Lesser (drums). Macias and Muehlhausen met at a bar the night President Obama was elected. “Historic indeed,” Macias said. “I was so taken by the moment (and a tall ginger guy he was with) that I walked right up to him and said we should be friends. He agreed.” Macias said Muehlhausen had been playing in another project already with Simon, who she found out was a classically trained pianist. “I had songs already written from a previous solo record I had put out but needed a band to play the tunes. It was an easy way to play together, since the songs were already arranged.” Macias said that once the core of the group was figured out they placed an ad on Craigslist looking for a guitarist willing to commit time and found Crane and then found Lesser through him. Macias said that the band is currently going through a genre change at the moment. “We used to take queues from the blues and rock greats, but these days, as a writer, I’m just so fascinated by pop and the tightness of pop structure… I think we’re a little like current Tegan and Sara meets Tove Lo meets Daft Punk.” The band members are all LA natives. As for playing at Rusty’s, Macias said, “Honestly, we’re just pumped to share our work with new people. Winning is just the gravy. Although…Twilight Concert Series slot would be pretty dope.” For more information on the band, go to

And last, but not least, at 10:15 p.m. is The Black Noise. The core band members are Donovan Brown (singer/songwriter) and Victor Ujadughele (singer/producer/guitarist), with different people called in to be the backing band. Lately the band has played with Clayton Kraus (drums), John Kveen (bass) and Daniel Kristoff (keys). Brown said that he and Ujadughele met in 2010 when Brown was doing poetry at open mics in Long Beach and decided to start trying to sing and play guitar as well. “That turned out to be harder than I anticipated so I started looking for guitarists to back me up,” Brown said. “A friend of mine who worked at Sears with me at the time introduced me to Victor. I went over his house, he played me a bunch of the beats he’d made and we actually wrote a song right then and there. From there, the rest is history. I told him we were henceforth a band and our name is Black Noise and he said okay.” Brown said their influences are “kind of all over the place” but include Stevie Wonder, Leonard Cohen, John Mayer, Queen, D’angelo, Prince, Radiohead and N.E.R.D. “Our sound has been described in many ways and is still evolving, but at the core it is soul music with indie rock stylings and eclectic arrangements. Think Frank Ocean with sharper teeth.” Brown is originally from Long Beach and Ujadughele from Bellflower by way of Nigeria. As far as playing at Rusty’s goes, Brown said, the band is “really looking forward to meeting the other artists, hearing their stories and possibly networking.” For more information on the band, go to

Rusty’s Surf Ranch is located at 256 Santa Monica Pier. There is no cover charge for the preliminary round shows.