Local band Poppy and the Pistols rocked their way to victory at the second annual Battle of the Bands competition last week. About 150 teens cheered as the alternative-blues-rock trio secured top spot and received a recording session at The Sound Suite. Runners-up Mech City Busk were awarded a photo shoot with Kat Scheer Photography. “It was pretty awesome and very exciting,” said 18-year-old frontman Gabriel Penner, who performs on stage with his brothers Josh (bass) and Levi (drums). “We were pretty pumped. It feels like we accomplished something.”Organized by Youth Church Abbotsford and Alderking Productions, the competition also featured local bands Ivory Coast, A New Divide and The Birch Taxis. Each group had 15 minutes to perform before judges tabulated their scores and declared the winner. The panel consisted of Valley Voices organizers Darcy D, Tim Barrett and Brad Styba. Evaluation was based on originality, performance, music quality and audience interaction. “It’s a huge deal for youth bands,” said Penner. “It’s not just exposure. It’s building community and relationships.”Poppy and the Pistols emerged onto the local music scene three years ago, and has played in several venues and competitions throughout the Lower Mainland. Last year, the group entertained crowds during Canada Day festivities at Abbotsford Exhibition Park and won the Supernova Battle of the Bands competition at Tommy Lee Music Hall in downtown Vancouver. The latest win now guarantees the trio a performance on the main stage at this year’s Agrifair, running July 28 to Aug. 1.Poppy and the Pistols is currently recording new tracks with producer and father Jonathan Penner. Musically, they have been compared to bands like Queens of the Stone Age and the White Stripes. The budding musicians are self-taught and write their own music, which is subtley influenced by their Christian values. Penner hopes to use the band as a vehicle to raise awareness about humanitarian efforts.”Music is such an outlet for emotions,” he said. “When people listen to music it allows a lot of guards and walls to be brought down and you’re able to reach people in ways that you might not be able to otherwise. Music for me is a very intimate thing. Doing it with my two brothers is the best thing in the world.”Poppy and the Pistols music can be found online at www.myspace.com/poppyandthepistols.