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Shadrach Strehle plays bass for The Wineboxes. Courtesy

The drum set that knocked down five ceiling tiles with its stage-shaking beat now sup­ported the boots of senior Jake Coonradt. His back to the audience, he timed his return to the ground with the final strum of his guitar solo. And 250 pairs of feet beat the Elk’s Lodge floor into sub­mission.

The Phi Mu Alpha men’s music fra­ternity held its annual Battle of the Bands Nov. 10, giving six student bands the oppor­tunity to play 30-minute sets in front of more than 250 stu­dents. The $5 entry fees ($3 pre-sale) will go toward char­ities chosen by the top three bands.

“We looked for bands that really played as a group,” said sophomore Carson Waites, a member of Phi Mu Alpha. “It’s easy to play a bunch of instru­ments together but dif­ficult to play in a cohesive manner.”

Waites, a member of Coonradt’s concert-winning band Dick Whiskey and the Short Stacks, and senior Aaron Andrews worked with senior Mark Naida to determine which bands would perform at the battle. Both Naida and Waites said they were pleased with how well every band played.

Audience members voted for their favorite band by placing marbles into jars. Dick Whiskey and the Short Stacks placed first, The Wineboxes took second, and Penny and the Mandimes fin­ished third. Cat­a­logue, the Village Idiots, and Clemons’ Lemons also played.

The night kicked off with a robotic voice recording intoning: “Hello, our name is Cat­a­logue. We will be playing all original songs. We hope you enjoy.”

Cat­a­logue is a recently formed duo of inter­na­tional EDM artist Declan James, a freshman, and sophomore Matt Mont­gomery. While James created the backing music, Mont­gomery pro­vided pas­sionate vocals as the room began to fill with people.

“I felt like I was lis­tening to the sound­track of ‘Stranger Things’ but with words,” said Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of Classics Eric Hutchinson. “But I liked it.”

Hutchinson, along with Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of English Dutton Kearney and Assistant Pro­fessor of Phi­losophy Lee Cole, helped judge the sets, with their ratings affecting each band’s ranking in the com­pe­tition.

Penny and the Mandimes played next, per­forming rock ’n’ roll hits including John Mellencamp’s “Hurt So Good.” With the exception of freshmen Dominic Bulger on keys and Jacob Gieselman on bass, the band was a sophomore effort. Drummer Adam Buchmann and gui­tarists Patrick Votel and Zane Mabry formed the core group, enlisting the vocal talents of Claire Calvert. Calvert said Buchmann approached her about singing because she could “sell the the­atrical part” of their per­for­mance.

“Stage presence exceeds office hours presence in this case,” Cole said.

The show moved to turn-of-the-century punk rock with The Village Idiots, who opened with Foun­tains of Wayne’s “Stacey’s Mom” and fin­ished with an intense yet rev­erent per­for­mance of “Car Radio” by Twenty One Pilots. The band fea­tured juniors Calvin Kinney on lead vocals, Ethan Greb on drums, Matt Kendrick and Christian Yiu on guitar, and sophomore Rowan Macwan on bass.

“When you guys played the Twenty One Pilots song, I got goose­bumps,” Kearney said. “It seems like you all really dealt that music and in feeling the music, we feel it, too.”

Then came the almost drum-set-buckling show from Dick Whiskey and the Short Stacks, who covered rock ’n’ roll as well as some original music. Coonradt pro­vided vocals along with his guitar solos, while Waites switched between key­board, vocals, and bass. Andrews rounded out the trio on drums.

“We kept changing our name, but nobody knew who we were and half the time we didn’t know who we were. It’s an identity crisis,” Coonradt told the audience, before adver­tising the band’s range of ser­vices. “We do children’s parties and funerals.”

Despite Coonradt’s antics, the sur­prise of the night was freshman John Stanley’s guest appearance on vocals for a ren­dition of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” The audience became a mass of waving arms as Coonradt played his guitar with a violin bow, while Stanley per­formed a song he’d learned just two days earlier.

The band’s per­for­mance prompted music department chairman, James Holleman, who has judged the battle for the pre­vious 15 years, to take the mic for a moment.

“I don’t mean dis­re­spect to the other bands, but amateur hour ended about half an hour ago,” he said, before returning to the crowd to watch the next per­for­mance.

Clemons’ Lemons came into exis­tence, after Naida threw junior Gill West into a Facebook message group with several female musi­cians. The result was a blazer-clad com­bi­nation of junior Domine Clemons on vocals, senior Callie Ring on bass, freshman Jenny Buccola on key­board, sophomore Luke Woltanski on a pink guitar, and West on drums.

“If you haven’t lost your voice, scream louder,” Clemons shouted before per­forming a set that ended with Fallout Boy’s “Thanks for the Mem­ories.”

The night ended with The Wineboxes. The Phi Mu Alpha group started with a barefoot Strehle playing bass for Pixie’s “Where is My Mind.” He took the stage alongside junior Ryan Burns on guitar and vocals, and seniors Dean Sin­clair on drums and Noah Weinrich on guitar. The group grew with each song it played, adding seniors Josh Lieb­hauser on key­board, Naida on vocals, and Jacob Hann on trombone as well as junior Matt Nolan on trumpet. A guest appearance from senior Brigette Hall’s oboe com­pleted the band’s ren­dition of “Redbone” by Childish Gambino.

“It was nice to see Dean play with two hands once in awhile,” Kearney said. “Just a joy to watch.”

By the end of the night, the floor was a little worse for wear and five square holes gaped in the ceiling, but the greatest impression was the bands’ per­for­mances.

“We were sur­prised by how well the bands who came together rather last minute played,” Waites said. “Also, every band that played sounded really great, which we were extremely happy with.”

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Joe Pappalardo
He is from Loveland, Ohio. After getting hands-on reporting experience at a naval battle, he now works as the assistant Web Editor for the Collegian. One of the last members of Hillsdale’s computer science program, Joe is pursuing a marketing major and journalism minor. Email: jpappalardo@hillsdale.edu | @joepappalardo95