Battle of the Bands

Ally Melling

Battle brings diverse music, large crowds; 1959 wins spot at FlashFest

1959 takes the stage last at the Battle of the Bands with their unique blend of R&B, reggae and funk. They won and will be performing April 27 at FlashFest. JAMESON CAMPBELL | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

As the final Battle of the Bands wore on in the Rathskeller, the size and enthusiasm of those in attendance grew with each band.

It was up to the crowd, and a few judges, to decide the fate of the chosen few who competed for the prize of playing at the annual FlashFest event on April 27.

“It’d be like a dream, like one big break,” said Kent resident Andy Dible (“Dibz”) after performing with rap group Catalyst Stone. “I’ve watched it for a couple years in a row now. I’d love to play at FlashFest.”

Acoustic band Falcon Pipe was chosen to open up for the finals while the crowd was filing in.

Despite being a two-man group of guitar and vocals, members Jake Swearingen and Phil Jordan set a superb performance level for the following acts to match. Sporting wonderful finger-work and raw, woeful vocals, Falcon Pipe is reminiscent of Alice in Chains or Lynyrd Skynyrd.

“Consider us an opening act for a good set of music,” said Swearingen, senior conservation major. “We are here just to play, enjoy ourselves and enjoy the music around us.”

Many more onlookers were added to the mix when Catalyst Stone took the stage.

The rap group gained cheers of excitement as Martina Kelly and Molly McSweeney layered dynamic vocals over steady R&B beats. Fellow members Dible and Ryan Swaney then layered over the women with fast rhymes and clever lyrics, weaving an impressive sound that had many crowd members dancing.

“We try to be as original as possible,” Dible said. “All of the beats are ours, and there are no covers. We try to make our own sound with the rap, with the girls in it, like trailblazers, if you would.”

Dible said if Catalyst Stone was to win, the group had guest vocalists lined up to perform with them at FlashFest.

After Catalyst Stone came Parsley Flakes, its two members appearing more like “The Caped Crusader” and “The Boy Wonder” than a politically charged band, donning matching red masks.

Parsley Flakes guitarist and singer Jeff Tucholski admitted he was a fan of Batman and superheroes but said the masks were a purposeful element of the band.

“The stuff we sing about is so serious that we try to take it down a level,” senior geography major Tucholski said. “We don’t want to appear like we’re better than anyone else, and the masks make our shows more of a spectacle. We just want to have fun. We don’t really care to be taken seriously. We just want to be taken.”

Tucholski (“Papa Parsley”) and keyboardist/singer Maria Jenkins (“Foo Foo Flake”) performed upbeat songs laden with hard guitar chords and shrill vocals. The band’s lineup varied from a Genesis cover to original works focused on feminism, anti-capitalism and 19th century history.


(no particular order)

• Lazy Susan

• Beatin Awake

• DJ Evan Evolution

• GZA (from Wu-Tang Clan)

• Ben Kreischer (comedian)

• DJ Skribble

• Buddy Jewel

• 1959

• plus group to be announced

“The whole band/fan concept is very blah,” Tucholski said. “We have made many friends who like our music. Most of them are activists and party people, but we’re inclusive. Sometimes we play songs about destroying capitalism, and we’ll have people clapping who could be conservative Republicans.”

The crowd grew and grew until the last act, 1959, began its set.

Performing on instruments that included the bass, keyboard and tenor saxophone, 1959 provided the battle with a taste of smooth jazz, blues rock and pure funk.

“Four of the six of us are music majors or have musical backgrounds,” said singer Maurice Martin, who is a senior music education major. “We’re all constantly playing.”

Martin listed the group’s collective influences as ranging from classics such as Stevie Wonder and Jimi Hendrix to modern artists such as Maroon 5 and Jamiroquai.

Swaying girls gathered at the edge of the stage and many in the crowed cheered 1959 on through multiple instrument solos and tempo changes.

By evening’s end, the Rathskeller was crammed with a crowd whose diversity equaled that of the groups it voted for.

“I voted for 1959 because it’s a fusion group,” freshman music major Alex May said. “They bring together a lot of different styles of music, old and new, and they mix it to make it very unique. It’s different than other sounds.”

Battle of the Bands judges eventually tallied the audience vote, which accounted for 40 percent of the final decision. Their own criteria were based on the categories of crowd participation, stage presence, musical ability and creativity.

And the winner: 1959.

“It feels great,” Martin said after the final announcement. “We just had fun and played off the crowd’s energy. Everyone else did well, and it was fun to hear all the different styles of music.”

As for FlashFest, Martin said students could hopefully expect a little extra from 1959.

“We’re going to try to have a larger group,” Martin said. “We want to try to bring out more horns. Overall, we want to have a good time and want the audience to, too.”

Contact ALL correspondent Ally Melling at [email protected].