The fight for FlashFest

Joe Shearer

Final round of Battle of the Bands to determine who will play with national act

The prize for the winner of All Campus Programming Board’s Battle of the Bands isn’t money or recording time in a studio: It’s an opportunity to play at FlashFest, the outdoor music and activity day sponsored by ACPB, on April 19. A national act to be named later will accompany the winner of the battle to play the event.

Starting in late March with 14 groups, Battle of the Bands produced one finalist each of its four nights. The first act to advance was reggae-inspired Tropidelic, followed by garage rockers NJs and the Jeff, indie-rock trio Annabel and the barbershop quartet, Harmony Grits.

Whether a band advances to FlashFest depends on one major factor: the audience. Some winners are more established and, therefore, bring in more audience support. However, a newer group such as NJs and the Jeff has a lot more to prove. Prior to their Battle of the Bands performance, members of the group claimed the band only existed for two and a half weeks.

Shana Scott, president of ACPB, explained why she believed NJs and the Jeff took the second night of the competition.

“They had fun performing,” Scott said. “They had a jam session, and jam sessions are appealing. You need to appeal to your crowd.”

Audience approval is a must for any band to make it to the finals. However, it takes more than just support from friends. A band must also prove it’s capable of winning over those who are neutral.

“It’s about how the crowd votes,” Scott said. “You can never assume the crowd’s position.”

Tropidelic is also known for engaging the audience, and perhaps has the largest fan base out of any of the bands. They have nearly 1,400 friends on their MySpace page, and are well established in the area, regularly bringing their blend of surf, rock, rap and reggae to venues such as the Robin Hood.

Annabel’s advantage is that their dream-rock sound is arguably more mainstream than that of the other finalists. Mainly influenced by indie bands such as My Bloody Valentine and Broken Social Scene, they also reminisce the Strokes, and even utilize keyboards hinting toward Elvis Costello.

All of the bands bring a different sound to the final night of Battle of the Bands. Last year, each night of Battle of the Bands was labeled by genre (rock, punk, hip-hop etc.), but with all of the different styles of music in this year’s competition, it’s difficult to imagine such a setup, especially when one of the acts performing is a barbershop quartet.

Scott explained that bands these days draw influence from a number of different artists, and therefore create a hybrid sound.

“Labeling bands is outdated,” Scott said. ” Genres have lost their individuality.”

Now in its sixth year, Battle of the Bands continues to refine and change formats, but the competition is the same.

“This is your chance to get the spotlight on you, and get the word out,” Scott said. “It might be a smaller show, and it not might be a major bar, but it’s on campus; it’s an opportunity. Because it is audience voting, this is a chance for them to start practicing their marketing. (Audience members) don’t come to get disappointed. It’s about selling to the audience, and you have to do it every night.”

Contact on-campus entertainment reporter Joe Shearer at [email protected].