Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia will host Hillsdale College’s Battle of the Bands this Saturday, Dec. 7.
Five bands will take the stage Saturday night at 8 p.m. and battle until a decisive winner is decided by a panel of faculty judges and audience approval – “American Idol-style” said junior Ian Swanson, director of the event. He said the grand prize is the satisfaction of being recognized as the best band on campus.
“There is no other venue like this to showcase the talent of the school,” Swanson said. “Bands will come out of the woodwork and totally surprise people.”
The event is meant to be a relaxing break between classes and finals said senior Micah Speers, President of Phi Mu Alpha. At $2 per ticket for nearly four hours of musical entertainment, it’s worth the distraction from studies.
“This is a come and go kind of event,” Speers said, “Come and have fun.”
This year’s contest will consist of a vast array of musical genres and styles. From the well-known Pickled Beats to the up-and-coming Virginia and the Woolf you will see both old and new faces.
Trent Kramer, vocalist and guitarist of the Pickled Beats said he was not part of the original southern-rock band, but sisters junior Haley and senior Jill Buccola, senior Margaret Danaher, and senior Andrew Parish welcomed him in.
“We have girls from Waterman, and an ATO – I’m an athlete,” Kramer said. “But we are all really solid Christians and we get along really, really well.”
Kramer said they will be playing country music with some classic rock and Zac Brown Band covers. They are entering the competition with intentions of winning – finally. They came in second the previous two years to the band The Gentiles, who have since graduated.
Ian Swanson and the Congress
Ian Swanson and the Congress is what leader and bass player Swanson called a “short attention span” band.
“Every song is completely different,” Swanson said. He said all the songs they will be playing are originals written by his father, Sean Swanson.
The band, recently formed is made up of almost all Phi Mu Alpha members – sophomore Wyatt McDonnell, freshman Jeffrey Gaiser and sophomore Christopher Pandolfo along with their non-PMA drummer Andrew Parrish – are all hopeful that their band will win.
“They are all my friends, they are great guys and will represent the product well,” Swanson said.
Rage Against the Regime
Rage Against the Regime is also a new PMA band, lead by Speers and his band mates Pandolfo, sophomore Ian Fury, freshman Tim Broxterman, and McDonnell.
“I’m super excited,” Speers said. “I have never played in a band before – I’m a little nervous.”
The band will spend their half-hour on stage performing classic rock songs, Switchfoot and even some Metallica.
“We have pretty good chemistry because we have known each other for awhile,” Speers said. “Even though Tim is a new initiate, he has meshed with us super well.”
Speers explained their goal is to have a lot of fun and go crazy. He said they may not be the best, but asserted they will certainly be the most fun.
“We’ll pretend, enjoy the spotlight and the crowd – if the crowd enjoys it you are fulfilling your purpose,” Speers said.
Virginia and the Woolf
Freshman Catherine Coffey and junior Josiah Young are the members of Virginia and the Woolf — which Coffey describes as a “whimsical and playful” band.
Coffey started her band by herself in 2011 when she began writing her own songs and bought a ukulele. After a concert series at her local coffee shop she came to Hillsdale and recently experienced YouTube success – one of her songs garnered 50,000 views in only a couple days.
The name of her band was inspired by Virginia Woolf, an author whose writing style Coffey said connects with her own musical style.
“I am really excited. I think it will be fun to have my music be heard. Hopefully people will like it.”
Young is a new addition to the band and considers himself “lucky” to collaborate with her.
“He’s Virginia and I’m the Woolf,” Coffey added.
Altogether Twenty One
The Alpha Tau Omega fraternity started a band specifically for Battle of the Bands. Andrew Parrish, freshman Noah Hiser, junior Spencer Amaral and sophomore Michael Ragan are the fraternity band’s members.
The band will be playing rock music from the ’70s to early ’90s, Ragan said. Despite having not practiced yet, Ragan said their brotherhood will help their chemistry.
“We want to put on a good showing and impress some people.
The John Taylor Band
Not competing in the competition but still performing, sophomore John Taylor said his band will bring a wide variety of music to the stage, along with his bandmates sophomores Ian Andrews and Whittaker Dun.
Taylor, who is only perfomring one song, said his band will play anything from his own music, to covers, to Irish songs and ’90s grunge.
“We never do a single song the same way twice,” Taylor said.
He said other people should listen to the music they like and not to care what anyone thinks of it.
“Music for us is different than for other bands,” Taylor said. “They focus on having their own theme or sound, but for us its about having fun.”
Taylor said the audience should be laughing and not confused while his band performs.