The Vanderslice Cabaret Room was the site of an intimate evening of original music on Thursday, as five Boston College bands competed in the first round of the annual Battle of the Bands. The event, jointly organized by Music Guild, the Arts Council, and the Campus Activities Board (CAB), provides an opportunity for the three winning bands to perform at the Arts Festival in April, where they will compete for the chance to open for the headlining artist at Modstock in May. Despite the high stakes, the atmosphere was convivial, with band members enthusiastically cheering on their opponents and joining the crowd to dance along.
The first band to take the stage, Haze Surfer, was true to its name, summoning a wall of reverberating sound from a fleet of four guitarists that included Jared Holzman, MCAS ’22. Drummer Roger Palacios, MCAS ’21, served as the steady backbone of the group. Dreamy shoegaze gave way to a more rambunctious song, before the band finished with a crowd-pleasing cover of Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So.”
Indie rock group Word on the Street helped coax the somewhat timid audience into a more spirited mood. Vocalists and guitarists Madeleine McCullough, MCAS ’20, Peter Toronto, MCAS ’20, and Dan Pflueger, MCAS ’20, harmonized for earnest love songs, with Alex Eichler, MCAS ’20, on drums.
The most experimental of the bunch, K.C.Q. performed a series of largely free-form jam sessions that relied on members’ talent for improvisation. Jazzy chords and an unexpected mish-mash of instruments—saxophone, trumpet, electric keyboard, guitar, and drums—made K.C.Q. the unorthodox stand-out of the evening.
Trio Unit One was the smallest band to perform, but it certainly knew how to fill the stage. Vocalist Rachel Moon, MCAS ’19, and guitarist Nick Sucre, MCAS ’19, riffed off each other’s energy, instantly shifting from moody introspection to bombastic energy.
Shady Lady—the crowd favorite, winner of last year’s Battle of the Bands, and incumbent Modstock opener—finished off the night with a slick, bluesy performance with plenty of attitude. Lead singer Nicole Rodger, MCAS ’19, executed precarious vocal runs with ease, and the all-female group had an easy-going chemistry onstage.
The trio of judges, consisting of one representative from each of the three associations that organize Battle of the Bands, quickly made their decision. With little fanfare, they announced their top three picks: Shady Lady, Word on the Street, and Unit One will be advancing to the Arts Festival at the end of April. There was plenty of excitement from the winning acts, yet the event was also the site of a good deal of camaraderie among the competitors. After all, the Battle of the Bands is a sign that the music scene at BC continues to flourish, and that’s a win for everyone.
Featured Images by Jess Rivilis / Heights Staff