Anyone who has walked down DP on a Friday night can tell you that I.V. has a music scene, but only those who came to the Hub on Wednesday night can say they’ve seen the best of what the local scene has to offer.
The Associated Students Program Board (ASPB) held the Battle of the Bands in the UCen Hub, where five bands competed for the top prize – a spot performing on the main stage of UCSB’s free music festival, Extravaganza, on May 15 with full promotion from ASPB. Judges gave local band the Hairbrain Scheme the highest score, making them the opening act at Extravaganza. The doors opened at 8:30 p.m. and the show started at 9 p.m.; about 150 students attended the event.
Each band played a 20-minute set, which averaged about six songs per band. The performances were judged and emceed by Santa Barbara-based KJEE radio station DJ Phat J. KCSB rock music director Bianca Sical and DJ Palladino from the Santa Barbara Independent were the other two judges. The judges said bands were evaluated based on a variety of performance aspects, such as band cohesion, overall performance, stage presence, crowd reactions and interaction with the crowd.
“They were all at a really high level to begin with, but there was a really good range of styles,” Palladino said.
Now that they have secured a spot opening on the main stage of Extravaganza, Hairbrain Scheme members said they look forward to playing alongside acts like Busta Rhymes and the Walkmen.
“We’re going to create a wall of sound that Busta will have to jump over,” Hairbrain Scheme singer Grant Parsons said.
Eric Freedman, ASPB concert coordinator, said the performing bands were made up of students, alumni or UCSB community members.
“We’re trying to invigorate the student-motivated music scene as well as the local I.V. scene,” ASPB commissioner Travis Heard said. “We’re trying to showcase students who don’t have any other platform to do it.”
Other local bands competing were Vallejo by Knife, Birdmonster, the Awakend and Fuzzy Logic. Each group was allowed to send demos to ASPB until April 1 in order to compete for the limited spots for the battle. The 15 members of ASPB then chose who would compete in the Wednesday night’s show.
“The idea is to find someone for Extravaganza, which is for UCSB and the community, so we don’t accept bands from North Dakota or anything,” Freedman said.
Freedman said selecting which bands to play in the competition was difficult.
“Some bands were really talented musically but wouldn’t fit into a Battle of the Bands,” Freedman said.
Despite the competitive aspect of the show, most bands said before the show that they weren’t there to battle it out.
“I’m very against competition in bands,” Vallejo by Knife guitarist and singer Joey Siara said prior to the event. “I think that bands should be friends. We’re just playing for a chance to be heard.”
With the exception of the Hairbrain Scheme, this is the first time any of the acts have competed in a Battle of the Bands.
“We always put on a good show,” Birdmonster singer and guitarist Peter Arcuni said before the event. “We perspire and work for it… We just want to rock really hard.”
Freedman said this year is an especially good year for music in I.V. and around UCSB.
“Unlike Seattle or New Jersey with a distinct sound, it’s a melting pot of music [in I.V.],” Freedman said.
The styles of rock music the bands play vary from classic to indie to metal. Each band describes their music as unique and said they hope it will reach a large audience, including new fans.
“We invented a new genre, ‘steel’ – heavy rock with melodic vocals and metal influence,” Awakend guitarist Dan Bronstein said.