Stella Mullin / Daily Nexus

Not just the place for a Panda Express study break, The Hub underneath the UC Santa Barbara’s University Center welcomed four bands — Lemon Generation, French Cinema, Never Clever and Field Daze — on Feb. 23 to compete in an “epic night of live music,” as Associated Students Program Board promoted. “Battle of the Bands,” hosted by UC Santa Barbara’s Associated Students Program Board, brought the I.V. band party scene to the middle of campus, giving students a chance to jam out on a rainy Thursday night. 

The rule of the night: 20 minutes to wow the judge panel and rile up the crowd. That’s it. 

Lemon Generation took the stage first. Their indie-rock sound radiating throughout The Hub electrified the crowd, and their stage presence was nothing to gloss over. Guitarist Handro Korn rocked a black fur coat and guitarist Brie Peterson grooved in a long denim skirt. 

Throughout the set, the crowd slowly bunched towards the front, taking in every ounce of the band’s sound. At the end of the set, everyone in the crowd was out on the floor dancing. Lemon Generation’s closing song encapsulated everything about indie rock — a track that features a slowish beginning but builds up halfway through the track. The band exited amidst a round of applause and intermittent whooping.

Next came the band French Cinema. Before there could be a lull in between changing bands, the crowd erupted in excitement as the stage turned from indie rock to hardcore rock ‘n’ roll. Drummer Wiki Alva and guitarist RT Guerra were outfitted in dresses, and Guerra was complemented by a purple electric guitar. Vocalist Landon O’Rourke[[ok]] sported a denim jacket with “French Cinema” splattered in red across the back. They embodied rock ‘n’ roll. The songs were heavy on guitar riffs and solos and a set highlight was their original entitled “Seasons.” The band shared a fun fact halfway through — two brothers in different bands were both competing that night. “Battle of the Bands” turned “Battle of the Brothers.”

The following band was Never Clever. Celebrating their one-year anniversary of the band’s founding this month, Never Clever brought a reggae-esque sound to The Hub reminiscent of San Diego reggae group Sandollar. Their songs, mostly originals, were heavy on the keyboard sound that bounced its way through the crowd. For their fourth song, Never Clever covered Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish,” and the track’s funky rhythm filled throughout The Hub and out into the University Center. Everyone who knew the words sang them, grabbing hands and grooving to the beat — a definite “Battle of the Bands” 2023 highlight. 

Vocalist Michelle Ohwobete spoke with the Nexus about performing, saying, “It’s my dream, so it feels very natural, and it feels like I’m connecting with people and growing into who I am.” 

To round out the performances, Field Daze brought a funk rock sound to The Hub. With the same feel as the alt-rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers, Field Daze shook their heads as true rock stars do, created a mosh in the middle of the crowd, had guitar solo after guitar solo and was absolutely rock ‘n’ roll. A favorite of the night was the band’s original song “DUI,” which they played shortly after announcing a new song dropping on March 10. 

To wrap the night up, the judges convened to decide on a winner. There was a buzz in the air as fans patiently waited to see who would be crowned the winner. The “always funky,” as self-described in their Instagram bio, Never Clever won bragging rights that evening as the best band. Lemon Generation, French Cinema and Field Daze did give them a run for their money though. The night ended, and as people started to file out, you could tell that everywhere who was there really wanted to be there. The crowd was full of the band kids and live music lovers that make UCSB so desirable to be at. They fill the small backyards on Friday and Saturday nights to get a taste of the live music Isla Vista has to offer. The music scene at UCSB is so unique, and these four bands help create its unmistakable feeling. 

Check out @lemongeneration @frenchcinemaofficial @nevercleverband @fielddazefux on Instagram for show announcements and highlights