There’s nothing like going out on a weeknight, especially when you can tell people that it’s for a good cause. On Wednesday, Jan. 11, Lee’s Palace was full of U of T students starting the semester off with some good ol’ rock ’n’ roll performed by four very talented campus bands.
Event co-organizer Danielle Sandhu explains that U of T‘s Battle of the Bands is an annual event open to all campus groups, where performers are chosen to participate based on the quality of their demo tapes.
“What’s different about this year’s event, though, is that we decided to partner up with different clubs and promote their activities,” Sandhu said. “This year we are working with War Child Canada, who are putting it on as part of their Musical Mutiny Battle of the Bands series. All proceeds from the event go to help that organization, and 90 per cent of all donations go to help the projects directly.” War Child Canada is a Toronto-based nonprofit that helps with rebuilding in post-conflict situations.
The first band to perform, Klaus and the Voormans, featured a trio of acoustic guitar, bass, and cello, as well as some harmonica. Despite some initial bad luck—the 18-year-old lead singer was almost denied entry to the 19+ venue and one of his guitar strings broke during the performance—the group pulled off an excellent performance that ultimately earned them second place.
They were the only band whose lyrics could easily be understood, with tunes ranging from the humorous “Writing Love Songs in My Underwear For You,” to the more powerful “Come of the Fire” and “Radiator Babe.” Each song contained good contrasts between loud and soft, and the lead singer’s powerful voice provided quite the contrast to his down-to-earth personality. Of all the groups that performed, Klaus definitely had the most unique sound and the greatest potential; though they are already very strong, it’s clear that their best songs and performances are yet to come.
The next performance was by Me, You, and Mack, who were rocking with traditional electric guitars, bass, and drums. This was a band with few words for the audience, as they let their songs speak for them. Putting forth a strong hard-rock sound, the group members were completely in tune with one another and delivered a performance that was professional and technically flawless.
The guitarists were both highly skilled, and while their wailing solos added a lot, the group’s drummer really stood out. Overall, the band evoked an energy that was contagious and really engaged with the audience through their music. Their highly professional performance ultimately earned them first place and the prize of an eight-hour recording session.
The third band to perform, Enough Hats, is about to release their first album. Pairing guitars and keyboards with Rock Band sticks, the group also delivered a high-quality sound with good communication between the different instrumentalists. The keyboard added a lot of depth to their sound, and the musicians’ ability to swap instruments showed their adaptability.
The final group, Spenthrift, tried to differentiate themselves by bringing out a conga drum, but unfortunately the other instruments almost completely drowned out its sound. This band had an exceptionally strong, aggressive, heavy metal sound that provided a great conclusion to another fun exposition of U of T’s musical talent.
“They were all good bands,” second-year sociology and global health student Ryan Franks observed. “But the ones that stand out are the ones that have something special to offer. The last three were good, but it seemed that they had pretty much maxed out their potential. I am not surprised at all by the judges’ decisions.”
Me, You and Mack will go on to perform at the War Child Canada Battle of the Bands, which takes place on March 18 at the Horseshoe Tavern.
For more photos of the battle, see Tom’s blog post here.