Musically diverse student bands compete at 'Battle of the Bands'

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Zoe Goldstein

Spread out on blankets in the cafeteria in dim evening light, members of the North community waved glow sticks and cheered as four bands composed of North students played an assortment of musically diverse songs for the audience.
The Class of 2019’s Battle of the Bands took place Thursday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. The event was a fundraiser for the Class of 2019 in which four bands played songs, and then audience members voted for their favorite band. The band Just a Phase won with 170 votes, and Upswing came in as a near second.
According to junior Dylan Evans, drummer for Just a Phase, “We were very grateful that we won, especially against such great bands.”
According to junior Maya Mathews, president of the Class of 2019, “the idea behind the battle was that we noticed there weren’t any big events for the school” that promote student bands although the school has “a crazy amount of musically inclined individuals.”
Junior Ava Waters, vice president of the Class of 2019, added, “We noticed that all of our events were athletic or physically based and wanted to reach out to another area of the school.”
As people filed into the cafeteria, members of the audience played games, ate snacks, and chatted on blankets laid around the room, creating an upbeat and casual setting for the bands, who performed in front of a black curtain set up in the middle of the cafeteria.
The first band that performed, Just a Phase, began with the song “Letterbomb,” by Green Day, energetically kicking off the evening.
The deafening song blasted through the room, invigorating the audience with its passion and energy. Throughout their entire set, the members of the band danced along to the music, demonstrating their excitement and camaraderie and whipping up audience enthusiasm. The combination of the drums, bass, guitar, and vocals made the band’s rendition of the song perfectly dynamic.
A highlight of Just a Phase’s set was a song they wrote themselves and performed for the first time called “Guess What?” The song started off with vocals that were much quieter than the other songs in their set but then sped up quickly into a drum and guitar based song.
According to Evans, “We could really feel the energy and connection between the band members, and we felt like our playing was really tight.”
Next up was Aidan’s Trio, “a jazz trio that [plays] old standard tunes with a modern vibe,” according to junior Aidan Devine, bassist for the band.
Their set of songs was jazz-inspired, a complete turn-around from Just a Phase’s music. The songs focused on the keyboard, drums, and bass and brought a calm and laid-back vibe to the evening.
Devine explained that his band chose to participate in the event because they “thought playing jazz was going to add a different mood—chill it out a bit.”
Their second song, “Polka Dots and Moonbeams,” by Bill Evans, was meandering and slow, with lots of keyboard and a steady beat and a tinge of moodiness. It was a highlight of their set with its relaxed and quiet tone.
Their last song, “F.T.B.,” by Robert Glasper, started with a slow keyboard section and blended all the instruments into a relaxed song that inspired audience members to sit back and chatter in the background.
The third band to play was Upswing, which continued the jazzier and slower theme that Aidan’s Trio had started.
“I would describe us as a band that plays a fusion of many different kinds of music,” said senior Cameron Mastoras, who plays trumpet for the band.
The band puts an “emphasis on creativity and improvisation throughout,” he added.
A captivating song from Upswing was “Smile Meditation,” by Vulfpeck, which is, according to Mastoras, “one of [their] favorite funk bands.” Setting this song apart from the rest was the featured flute, played by senior Ryan Park. While the rest of the songs were based on trumpet and saxophone, the flute at the beginning of this song provided a captivating variation that made the song memorable.
The band ended their set with an original song, “Cowbell,” which, according to Mastoras, “has a really hype ending.”
The song was jazzy and upbeat, riffing on a trumpet theme throughout and earning many cheers and much clapping from the audience. With highlights of each of the band’s instrumental strengths and varied sections throughout, it was a star of the night.
The last performance of the night was senior Ian Reid. Accompanied by senior Will Marsh on percussion, Reid played his first song, “Stars,” which was an original song, like all the others in his set.
His songs were much more lyrics-focused than the other bands’ songs. Reid sang his inventive lyrics, rife with wordplay and honesty, in a gravelly, low voice that was almost simply talking. He played the keyboard as he sang. The combination of his unique voice and lyrics made for an enthralling and refreshing experience.
In his first song, lyrics filled with celestial imagery, like “we’ll share an astral memory,” and with rumination, like “time moves by at the strangest pace,” captured the audience’s attention with their astute observations and flow with the music.
Reid ended the song by pronouncing himself “also a SoundCloud rapper” and proceeded to his second song, “Fall.”
He rapped alone, starting off with lyrics about Eden and Adam and Eve at an impressively fast but not rushed pace. About halfway through the song, he introduced a melody along with some slant rhyme and wordplay.
He ended the song with the lyrics “There’s no Eden, but there’s Cabot Woods, and I’m happy,” giving a nod to the woods behind Cabot Elementary School, a popular teen hangout.
Overall, the night was an inspiring insight into the prodigious musical talent of North students.