Battle of the Bands 2017

I already came in, and beyond my expectations I was surprised to see so many people already at the info desk of Usva at Munnekeholm 10. Luckily for me I was on the guest list and I just went inside past the excited attendees. Then, the show started in few minutes and I could see that everybody in the room was curious and awaited the beginning. On stage arrived two presenters, with an interesting British accent and very sure of themselves. Both of them music lovers.

Thematically the event of April 6 revolved around ‘People of the World’ and the international environment that Groningen hosts.

Performances

The presenters introduce the jury which is formed of two band members Bram Vink of “Marble Hearts”, Stefan Van der Wielen of “Orange Skylines“ and a RUG professor, Melanie Schiller, who is a Pop Music expert. This was an interesting addition to the event, giving it a rather professional twist.

The first band to play was The Mudd, the event kicked in with energetic rock tunes blend with a female voice that is rough. The public just grooved with it for now…  They went on, performing their own composition ‘According to plan’ a song reminding me slightly of Iggy Pop combined with a NIN (Nine Inch Nails).
On the stage, they had a torso of a mannequin which has the band’s name written on it, an inventive way of choosing a mascot to advertise their name.
They went on playing a tune similar to ‘Sweet Home Alabama ‘. The band had a good chemistry with each other and not surprisingly the jury pointed this as well in their end speech. After all The Mudd won the 1st place that night…

After the first act there was a break for everybody, so the next band could install their equipment, the presenters introduced ‘Auricle’. When entering the stage the band was cheered a lot by the audience! I felt I was the odd one out. I didn’t know who the band was, therefore I just applauded a bit. Well, if you are familiar with medical terms, an auricle is the visible part of the ear that resides outside of the head. There are six members, all medicine students from UMCG. I presume the audience was filled with med. Students too.
The band started playing ‘Californication’ expressing their choice of the song because of the theme and how it encompasses the world. Here is when the audience was lured to dance. Also, the jury pointed out that this is something not to be underestimated.
The second song performed was a Lebanese tune about taboos regarding sexuality and drinking, performed by the lead singer who is of Arabic origin. It was an interesting situation. The band was, as it seemed to me, putting forward some points that are political.  This was  an interesting contrast to the other bands that are dealing with music for pure enjoyment and for being cool on stage. I felt. The other songs played by the band were an Artic Monkeys cover and an Italian song. They ended their performance with a loud and clear rendition of ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca’. It was a strong ending and the audience was enjoying it lots!

The third band, Mōtherland began with a statement. That we, the audience love to dance and jump and therefore we should do so and that they, the band, like to jump and go crazy on the stage. Indeed, they had an entertaining chemistry and  were experimenting with the stage positions. At one point, the four performers were standing next to each other while the drummer was in the back. It created a different view of how a band looks on stage. This was unique and I found it interesting. They had a cocky way of behaving on stage. The audience was at their feet and the band was not afraid of what anybody thinks. I think the overall message of their performance, even though they did not state it, was ‘Enjoying the stage, to play, to jump, to celebrate!’ And for their performance, Mōtherland won the second place.

The fourth band was a surprise for everybody! There were 11 players, all of them medicine students. They are known under the name ‘E Causa Ignota’ (“by unknown cause”). There were two singers, one of them which was the guitarist, a wind quintet, a bassist, drummer and most amazingly for a rock performance, a harpist! Having a big band has a great influence on the performance. The soundscape that is created is richer and thus probably impressing the audience more. In the 2016 edition of Battle of the Bands, they won the first place. The playlist they chose to perform was a mixture of personal compositions and covers. My personal favorite was the interpretation of Black Key’s ‘Lonely boy’ which I though was fantastic.

In the end, I want to paraphrase the jury’s statement that music is not a contest and a winner is not the point of the art form but only a way of showcasing. After all I could only say positive things  about all the performances.

By Radu Hainaru

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