On Wednesday January 11, Lee’s Palace invited students in from the cold to witness the final showdown of the University of Toronto’s annual Battle of the Bands. The four finalists battled it out in one of Toronto’s best-known live music venues for the winning title and $500 in cash.

The night was charged. The bands used a wide range of instruments including a cello, a trombone, a trumpet, guitars, saxophones, and keys, which together created an all-around exceptional live music performance from start to finish. The energized audience never faltered, and kept the mood elevated the entire night.

The first band to perform was the duo Dorval, comprised of guitarist Daniel Lewycky and drummer Adam Moffat. They captivated the audience by taking full advantage of the stage, performing their own stunts while playing a rock and blues style of music. Judging by their profuse clapping and whooping, the crowd was all for it.

The second band to perform was Pictures of Richard, who describe their style as “jazz infused rock.” The Varsity caught up with Ryan Genis, the lead guitarist. “It’s nice to come to a venue with people that you’ve never met before and have them be so involved. It makes performing that much better,” Genis said. Pictures of Richard’s upbeat, funky style of music had the audience dancing throughout their set.

The third band, FOMA, was composed of five members from York University and a keyboardist from U of T. It was clear upon seeing the band on stage that it was highly experimental, due to their unique collection of instruments.

The vocal-free band exuded fun and creativity, all the while looking like they were having a blast on stage. Bandmate William Dietrich, who plays bass, said that “the energy was there and the crowd responded really well.” I would have to agree; the audience didn’t seem to stop dancing.

FOMA’s upbeat, funky style of music had the audience dancing throughout their set.

The fourth and final band, The Accolades, were visually striking, with the members looking very stylish in coordinated suits, and the vocalist rocking a gold jacket.

They took the crowd on a “musical, funky journey” from beginning to end. The band produced a surprise guest singer, Jamie Gabbani, who told me that she felt the atmosphere was really positive. The Accolades’ exciting performance ended the night perfectly.

In the final hours of the night, the time came to announce the winner of this year’s Battle of the Bands. After a dramatic pause and a drum roll FOMA was deemed winner of the night.

With a heartwarming speech, the members graciously accepted their award, thanking the other bands and those along the way who helped them get to where they are.

The event itself felt fresh and upbeat. The audience was very receptive to the music throughout the night — it seemed that there was never a dull moment. Members from all four bands were also seen mingling with the crowd, giving the event a very intimate feel. Overall, the night was a huge success, with all four bands excelling at their performances.

It was an enjoyable night, especially considering the dreary weather outside. Thanks to Lee’s Palace, students were able to see the best of the University of Toronto’s up and coming musical talent, not to mention gain respite from the cold.

This year’s Battle of the Bands was reflective of Toronto’s diverse music scene, and provided new artists with an outlet to showcase their talent, a great opportunity for university students to get their name out there in Toronto’s music scene.

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