Student band Penny and the Mandimes won Phi Mu Alpha’s Battle of the Bands. Carmel Kookogey | Col­legian

Penny and the Mandimes emerged vic­to­rious from music fra­ternity Phi Mu Alpha’s annual fundraiser “Battle of the Bands” last week. The event, which took place at 55 Below on Nov. 23, also fea­tured student bands Cat Stevens Con­version, Johnny Cole Murdock, The 72, Rodger Scotch and the High­balls, and Great White North. 

Claire Calvert, front­woman of Penny and the Mandimes, and her band­mates seniors Patrick Votel, Adam Buchmann, Zane Mabry and juniors Dominic Bulger and Jacob Gieselman have been playing together for two years. 

“As the years have gone on, I’ve become really good friends with the guys,” Calvert said. “I’m so com­fortable being onstage with them now, and we know that we have each others’ backs.”

Calvert said that being com­fortable onstage allowed her to focus on enter­taining the audience. 

“People want to be enter­tained and they want to be involved in the per­for­mance,” Calvert said. “Because I’m not playing an instrument, the people in the audience are my focus. I want them to have the same joyful and fun expe­rience that I’m having onstage.”

According to Calvert, classic rock is her band’s favorite genre. 

“The boys love it because it has a lot of prominent guitar and the instru­mentals are great,” she said. “But we try to inte­grate pop into our dynamic as well because it’s really fun, and some­times we’ll throw in a weird song, too.”

This performance’s weird song was the punk version of “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Any­thing” from Veg­gi­eTales, which inspired Votel to don a pirate hat during the per­for­mance.

Rodger Scotch and the High­balls also stood out at Battle of the Bands, thanks in part to senior Brian Freimuth’s guitar solos. 

According to Freimuth, his favorite song to play was “Come Together” by The Beatles. 

“The beginning of that solo is like three notes, but if everyone’s hyped, it’s like those are the coolest three notes,’” he said. “Rock is all theatre. It’s stage presence and energy.”

Like Penny and the Mandimes, Freimuth said Rodger Scotch and the High­balls grav­i­tates towards certain genres of music.

“We like to play late ’60s and early ’70s rock, and modern music that kind of sounds like it,” Freimuth said. “We do boomer rock like Led Zep­pelin, because the boomers had better music than we do. I think it’s because they had better parties.” 

Freimuth said that he appre­ciates Hillsdale’s music scene because there is little division between dif­ferent kinds of musi­cians. 

“The best part about the off-campus music scene is that there aren’t any bar­riers between clas­si­cally trained musi­cians, rock people, jazz people, people who like to play acoustic — everyone likes to come together and share their skills,” he said. 

However, he added that he’d like to see more people getting involved. 

“The one area of improvement that we need is more house shows, more con­certs, more people forming bands,” he said. “There are a lot of people who are fan­tastic musi­cians who are like ‘Oh, I don’t have time, I need to study for my test.’”

Ethan Greb ’19 said Battle of the Bands is one of his favorite events of the year. 

“You see so much raw talent from the stu­dents,” he said. “As a graduate, it’s always great to see new bands form and play music. The last two years, I was a drummer for the band The Village Idiots, and I miss the adren­aline rush of playing in front of a crowd. The energy at this event is always so high.”

According to Greb, the music scene at Hillsdale is alive and well. For the sake of floors every­where, Battle of the Bands should probably stick to under­ground venues in the future.