By Rachel Emily Auton
Feb. 26, 2014. The 15th annual Battle of the Bands competition, hosted by the Appalachian Popular Programming Society(APPS,) was held at Legends on the campus of Appalachian State University Feb. 27 at 9 p.m.
Four student-based local bands, Chrome Scene, The Nude Party, Sensation of Falling, and Talking Box Co., competed for a headlining show at Legends and monetary prizes totaling $250.
Each band played a 20 minute set of original songs to an audience of over 200, according to Nikolina Boskovic, Club Shows chairperson APPS.
A panel of three judges declared a first place tie between Chrome Scene and Sensation of Falling and awarded second place to Talking Box Co. by a two point margin.
The two winning bands were awarded $112 each with third and fourth place receiving $50 and $25 respectively, said Boskovic.
“This is one of the best years I’ve ever seen here and I’ve been doing this for years and years,” said veteran judge John Rush, show promotions coordinator at Murphy’s Tavern.
Chrome Scene opened this year’s show with a set of five original songs. Consisting of guitarist/vocalist Glenn Christian, guitar/vocalist Brad Steed, drummer Corey Hamilton and bassist Christian Dolan, the band played songs they informed the audience they had never before played in public, dedicating the last song to a band member’s mother.
The Nude Party played next, also dedicating a song to a band member’s mother in their four song original set. Band members included Patton Magee on vocals, Connor Mikita on drums, Alec Castillo on bass, Zachary Merrill on keyboard, Shaun Couture on guitar and Austin Brose on percussion. The band left the stage to audience chants of “one more song.”
Third in the show was Sensation of Falling, a three person band consisting of Andrew Graves on drums, Sawyer Johnston on keys, vocals, and tambourine and Dean Cates on guitar, bass, and banjo. The band’s four song original set featured several instances of instrument switching and trading, given their small numbers.
Talking Box Co. rounded out the show with their set of three original songs and one cover. The four person band, Bryan Hatchell on guitar/vocals, Spencer King on guitar/vocals/synth, Brian Froeb bass, and Austin Hansen on drums/vocals, made it a priority to document the night, passing a disposal camera through the audience and taking pictures with their smartphones from the stage.
“The word to learn tonight was rubric,” said Rush. “It’s the criterion we judged on and how we responded in terms of advice and criticism.”
Rush was joined by Professor Andy Page of the Music Department at Appalachian State University and a member of the sound and production team on the judging panel.
“We judged on four categories on a scale of one to five points each-originality, stage presence, musicianship, and crowd interaction,” said Rush. “The first song is considered a soundcheck and then we judge each song after that and there’s a penalty for going over time.”
Each band was allotted 20 minutes for their set and were signaled with the lowering of the house lights when they neared the time limit, according to Boskovic.
“We were really excited about this opportunity, we got to play on stage and it was pretty great exposure for us, even with 20 minutes where we kind of crammed everything together.” said Andrew Graves, drummer for co-winning band Sensation of Falling. “We really tried to craft and make the set dense so we could have a 20 minute performance we were proud of.”
Sensation of Falling’s first place company, Chrome Scene, echoed the same sentiment. “It was awesome just to be on a big stage with three other great bands,” said Christian Dolan, bassist. “We’ve only played one house party before this, so all our amps could have blown and we still would have had fun.”
Though all of the bands were satisfied with the experience, sound issues were an overarching complaint.
“You know, I had a lot of fun but I couldn’t hear great,” said Dean Cates, guitarist for Sensation of Falling. “We couldn’t really hear each other well at all.”
“I wish we just would have had a more communicative sound crew” said Patton Magee, vocalist for The Nude Party. “We couldn’t hear ourselves but we couldn’t really yell across all those people to the sound booth.”
Chrome Scene and Sensation of Falling will co-headline their own show at Legends next year.
Several winning bands in the past have gone on to play larger venues, Boskovic said.
Two previous winning bands, From Bears and Dr. Bacon, are booked at Murphy’s Tavern for this year, said Rush.