March 10, 2023 | ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT | By Isabella Ingersoll, Co-Editor-In-Chief & Esa George, Arts & Entertainment Editor
“If we lose, someone please take my guitar away.”
On Friday, March 3, the Sounds of Colorado College (SoCC) hosted the first round of Battle of the Bands, an annual competition between on-campus bands, with CC students responsible for selecting four out of the 13 bands to advance to next week’s final round.
The stakes are high — the eventual winner is allowed a set at this year’s Llamapalooza. It was a common sentiment among the crowd that it was a competition was sometimes forgotten, for the bliss and energy brought by the music dominated the competitive nature of the event.
The basement of Worner, the largest available space on campus, transformed from a mysterious food storage area to a venue equipped to host about two hundred CC students. This two-hundred-person limit quickly became an issue, as crowds of students poured into Worner a little too closely to 7:30 p.m., and consequently were left waiting at the entrance, the sounds of each band taunting them as they hoped to eventually be let in.
Each band was allotted just six minutes to convince the audience they were worthy of their vote. Most bands used their six-minute set to play two songs, ranging from a catalog of covers, some more shocking than others (we’re referring to the pleasant surprise that was a One Direction tribute band no one knew they needed). But also, some bands took on the risk (yet so rewarding!) of debuting original songs.
The CC music scene tends to dominate social events, with on-campus bands energizing frat parties, darties, and Lulu’s Downstairs. However, it is clear that the Battle of the Bands is different.
“You have to play something special and impress the crowd, not just for the vibes and the atmosphere, but for the music… you have to put on your best work,” Emma Langas ‘25, the main vocalist in The Morning After, shared before she took to the stage.
Langas’ band member Robby Brooks ‘25 agrees with her, explaining, “Winning the chance to perform at Llama is such an exciting prospect—it’s the ultimate epitome of CC’s music taste, and to be included among a lineup of nationally-known acts and other professional musicians is an affirmation of our hard work.”
Niko Cvitanic ‘25 of Sallie & the Swamp Goblins echoed this sentiment while sitting on a couch backstage before his set. He explained how the competitive nature of the event raises the stakes to a more intense level than his popular band’s usual performances, “There is more opportunity to feel bad about yourself.”
Sallie & the Swamp Goblins has been a CC fan favorite since they started performing last spring. A fan and friend of the band, Marina Malin ‘25, declared her support for Sallie & the Swamp Goblins: “My heart is with the Swamp Goblins,” as she started, quite literally jumping with excitement. “Their EP is out today, and it just blows my mind that they are my friends. They’re people my age and so talented.”
Bumping into Malin on our way into the venue was the perfect way to begin the night. Her excitement was tangible. She reiterated the overwhelming positivity of the event itself, “I wouldn’t say there’s so much tension as there’s just so much passion in there…You can see [the bands] getting excited and pumped up.”
Battle of the Bands is, by nature, an undeniably competitive event. However, some bands viewed it as an opportunity to have fun playing music with their friends, rather than to try and secure the Llamapalooza set.
“We do not expect to win… I’m gonna play devil’s advocate and say we’re here to lose,” declared Aidan Katz ‘26 of Tandem Bike Trip, a band he described as playing “a little bit like how a teenager goes through high school, like a lot of puberty all at once…”
Jason Smith ‘25 agreed, explaining how his band, Strip, only rehearsed for two hours for this gig—Strip did secure a spot in this week’s final round, nonetheless. Next, Sam Johnson ‘25 of Stallion Hendrix even went as far as to say, “There is no competition. Everyone is friends here… we’re all here to play.”
For almost three hours, the audience was singing, jumping, jamming, (vaping), and moshing. The one thing they couldn’t do: pee.
Yes, the event technically had bathrooms, but audience members had to risk giving up their spot inside the venue to be able to use them. The venue held over two hundred students, yet Campus Safety officers monitored a long line outside the venue of students trying to get in. If you left the venue to pee, you had to rejoin the line. How ironic that they supplied water jugs and a plethora of bottles, almost encouraging our need to pee and lose our spot. But there was one hack we figured out:
Real investigative journalism manifested itself into borrowing bright neon-yellow “EVENT STAFF” vests, after convincing a real SoCC member how badly we had to use the restroom. If you had a vest, you were let in and out of the venue at any moment, with no problem.
Brooks, a performer and SoCC Event Manager acknowledged bathroom difficulties, “The reason why we weren’t able to host the event at a bigger venue like the Robson area is because the SoCC could not secure the funds from Campus Activities unless we found another even to partner with, so we had to use what we could find.”
While we admit that it’s not an easy job monitoring hundreds of rowdy, musically-passionate, very likely inebriated college students, Campus Safety and Campus Activities could have been a little more forgiving as to how they approached reprimanding students.
Both of us, although we were simply trying to do our job, experienced the wrath of Campus Safety and Campus Activities.
Esa’s raspberry lemonade was abruptly confiscated, with no questions asked, simply swiped right from her hands as she was screwing the cap back on. There goes three Gold Card dollars!
Isabella was ripped from the shoulders of her best friend and guitarist of The Morning After, Julian Wiseman ‘25. They’re not kidding when they say journalists really do put their lives on the line.
Lack of bathrooms and frustrating monitoring aside, the energy in the room was palpable, but it was clear that many of us were there for a higher purpose.
Before Sallie & The Swamp Goblins began their set, their lead vocalist Sallie England ‘25 requested for the background music to be turned off. England spoke to the crowd about how this event would not have been possible without her best friend Jack Madison, who was a member of the SoCC and one of the driving forces of music exploration at this school. “I can feel him here,” she said right before diving into her first song.
And if you were there, you likely felt moved by the tunes that underscored the entire event, as between sets, a curation of Jack’s favorite songs echoed through the venue, selected by some of those closest to him. It was fitting to have his favorite songs link the various sets together, as he linked so many members of the CC community together through sharing and celebrating music.
Once all thirteen bands had played their sets, Malin and fellow SoCC member Oliviero Zanalda ‘25 joined on stage to share an important tribute to Jack for all that he continues to do for the SoCC, and how much work he put in to bring music to everyone on campus. Malin, Jack’s girlfriend, shared with the crowd that she knew Jack “is here dancing along with us.” Those close to him felt his spirit there and will for each moment of musical unity on campus and anywhere.
After they spoke, students were instructed to scan a QR code to cast their vote. Many found it incredibly difficult to select two out of the thirteen incredible performances.
Ultimately, the winners in no particular order were: Sallie & the Swamp Goblins, Strip, The Morning After, and The Keeps.
Listen to them battle it out during the final round, TOMORROW (Saturday) at 7:30 p.m. in the Worner Basement.