Last Saturday in the Chesapeake Room at the Sadler Center, four campus bands brought their A-game to the stage at AMP’s annual Battle of the Bands competition. For four hours straight, Kinetic, Digging Up Virgins, Space Expert and Holly Would took turns flexing their musical muscles for a monetary prize.
The event, hosted by AMP’s Homebrew committee, was a nautical-themed event called Battle(ship) of the Bands. On Saturday night, Homebrew gave students a chance and a venue to showcase their talent to their peers and to share their passion with new people.
“Some people spend hours each day practicing and perfecting their art, but it never leaves their bedroom,” Homebrew Committee Chair Kevin McCrory ’12 said. “Our goal is to get those people on stage and give their friends and classmates the chance to witness a part of their life they may have never seen.”
The event was held in the Chesapeake Room, which provides the same atmosphere as a small concert venue.
“Lodge 1 works great as a venue the majority of the time, but not all performers are the same,” sad McCrory. “Some groups fit better in a large room with massive sound equipment. Battle of the Bands is about bringing that rock concert feel to the students.”
AMP began preparing well in advance for this staple event, according to McCrory, and budgeting for the Battle of the Bands started last semester. It all came together Saturday night when AMP’s attention to the event’s details was evident — from the streamer and balloon decorations to the closely-timed programming and the themed snacks of Swedish Fish, Hawaiian Punch and Goldfish crackers.
As diehard fans of the bands and curious passersby alike walked through the door, they were each handed a ticket. Once audience members decided on their favorite band, they voted by slipping their ticket into one of four large brown labeled envelopes. At the end of the night, the tickets were counted and the band with the most votes won.
The bands represented a somewhat diverse array of music within the rock genre, ranging from what Digging Up Virgins’s bassist Guy Carmeli ’12 describes as “lo-fi surf rock” to Holly Would’s alternative sound. The bands performed mostly original songs, like Digging Up Virgins’s audience favorite “Puppies in Space” and Space Expert’s “Substance D.” However, cover songs were also prevalent and included Holly Would’s rendition of Mike Posner’s “Cooler Than Me” and Kinetic’s cover of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” The bands showed an amazing amount of talent, creativity and stage presence during their 45 minute sets.
After an exciting night full of enthusiastic fans and many exhilarating performances, at 1 a.m. the Homebrew committee revealed the winners. The audience overall favorite and first-place winner of $200 was Kinetic, followed by the runner-up, Digging for Virgins, which received $100. Space Expert earned third place.
As many of the bands expressed, this show was the result of playing gigs at every opportunity and running through set lists ad nauseum, according to singer and guitarist Nicholas Wagner ’11.
“We’re practicing every chance we get, which isn’t often,” William Huberdeau ’08, singer and guitarist of Digging Up Virgins, said. “But we’ve been playing an average of about a show per week, and try to get in a practice before each one. It’s adding up and paying off. It’s really just practice.”
Ryan Laney ’11, keyboardist for Kinetic, pointed out that Saturday night’s competition was only a small part of Kinetic’s long-term goals as a band and as individual musicians.
“We’re always working on developing both our musicianship and showmanship so we can put on quality shows that are fun for the audience,” Laney said. “We’ve been working on our first full-length album, titled ‘Get Your Heavy Load Off My Pack Mule,’ and that’s really required a lot of practice time … So between working up the album and gigging around, we feel pretty prepared … In the long-term, we’re looking to get involved in the [Washington] D.C. music scene.”
From the performances at Battle of the Bands, it was clear that the band members have a passion for what they do, and that they came to enjoy themselves while sharing their music with friends and peers.
“For the most part, we really enjoy sharing our music with other people,” Carmeli said. “The competitive edge is usually tempered by a few beers and tons of fun.”