Last Saturday night, Nov. 15, eight bands took the stage on the Mall to perform for an eager crowd, each displaying tremendous talent in the midst of drizzling rain and blistering cold.
The first band, Dardan Sons and Daughters, kicked off the Battle of the Bands with an interesting set up, the lead singer dressed in a startlingly bright red toga. They opened their show with a dark description of Dardanus and the history of Rome, eerily explaining the band’s title. Beginning with a melancholy cello solo, the band opened with a rather depressing vibe, angrily shouting lyrics such as, “There’s a hole in my soul, I can’t fill it” and “When all of our flaws are laid out one by one, we pick ourselves undone,” from the song “Flaws” by Bastille.
However, the band quickly took a more uplifting turn upon the completion of the first song. The piano led this time, and the cello blended with the keyboard to provide a much more beautiful sound. Lyrics gradually shifted to romantic sentiments like “I bet my life for you” and “There’s you in everything I do,” a cover of the Imagine Dragons song “I Bet My Life.” They ended their set with “Pompeii” by Bastille, one of the guitarists using his hands to drum along the side of his guitar to fill the role of percussionist, as there was no drummer. The final acoustic song was perhaps the best display of the band’s potential, as all the members seemed strongest during their last number.
But just as the next band, Cup Full of Ants, headed onstage to take its place in front of the Tower, there was a mildly disastrous delay. At this point, the rain had begun to generate intensity and was interfering with the sound equipment. With the help of amiable passersby, Tommy Joseph and other volunteers tore down the stage and replaced it under the roof in front of the science building. After about forty minutes, Cup Full of Ants emerged from the science building and began with an untitled original song.
The band featured prominent electric guitar solos, which blended well with the rhythm guitar. The band’s second song was a little heavier and more fast paced, bringing an upbeat, energetic vibe which seemed to excite the remaining crowd. The impressive drummer placed quite a bit of emphasis on the cymbals and high hat, which gave a pleasant, lighter rhythm that synced perfectly with the guitarists. Cup Full of Ants’ final number slowed things down a bit, ending with an absolutely gorgeous guitar solo.
Hellen Yellar, the self-proclaimed “most dangerous band at UD” sauntered outside next, beginning with a bass heavy, fast-paced anthem. The band followed up with another high tempo metal song that ended with a groovy bass solo. The group played a total of three originals and three covers, ending on a fast, triumphant note that pleased the freezing crowd.
Civil Wars 2.0 featured an impressive female vocalist, establishing a soft, laid back vibe similar to that of the Lumineers. The band covered the infamous “Ho Hey,” as well as a creative mashup of “All of Me,” “Radioactive” and “We Found Love,” blending John Legend, Rihanna and Imagine Dragons. The harmonies between the singers were phenomenal, and the crowd’s roaring applause highly reflected the group’s excellence.
West Emerald mixed things up by adding a violin and a somewhat pitchy euphonium. Like Civil Wars 2.0, the band members went for an acoustic vibe, though they veered more toward folk music as the set went on. As people walking by stopped to listen, the crowd began to grow larger and larger, ending with uproarious applause.
Raccoon Jay, after an incredible performance last year, returned for yet another crowd-pleasing set, opening with a soft intro followed by a solid bass line. The group clearly had a pre-existing fanbase, as several people in the crowd marked their faces with the band’s signature dark makeup around the eyes. The band and fans alike definitely resembled raccoons, which helped set them apart from some of the other performers. Rock songs turned progressively more funky as the night went on, featuring by far the strongest drummer of the night. The Mall was filled with raucous screaming and cheering as Racoon Jay played “Your Love is my drug” by Kesha and “All Star” by Smash Mouth.
Finally, last year’s reigning champions, The Kingfish, took the stage, one guitarist sporting a gorgeous white Fender Stratocaster and the other, a sleek yellow Les Paul with uncut strings. The band’s keyboard player was absolutely fantastic, giving them a richer, fuller sound that was a clear hit with the audience. The band members were probably the most skilled musicians of the night, seeing as they had the strongest crowd reaction and the most energetic vibe.
West Emerald took third place, Civil Wars 2.0 fell in second, and The Kingfish once again claimed the title of first place. Despite the cold and the rain, Battle of the Bands proved to be a huge success, paving the way for a great turnout in the years to come.