Battle of the Bands rocks campus; no injuries reported as of yet

Karner, Paul

Last Friday, Lawrence’s frat quad became host to nearly five hours of non-stop rock and roll as the first ever Battle of the Bands took place, hosted by SOUP. A total of seven bands played on one of two stages set up beneath the blue and white tent, each bringing a different style of music as well as its own level of musicality. The battle began with the wailing sounds of Sunday Flood. These indie rockers brought a raw yet melodic blend of wailing, delay-soaked leads, and thick hardcore undertones; the perfect backing for the front man’s intense emo-esque vocals, which often climaxed in all-out screams. Sunday Flood was definitely no warm-up act, and given a larger audience they could have caused much more of a stir.

The follow-up, a trio of young punks who called themselves Mr. Relativity, brought it to you straight: no gimmicks, no glam, no tuning, just straight up garage rock. The singer/bassist, clearly the brains behind the band, shows promise, and given a few years to let his social disillusionment take root (and his voice to change), these three high school misfits could see some real success.

The next act to grace the stage definitely caught the eye of those in attendance. With a guitarist and bassist who looked like they had just been denied tickets to a Pantera concert, a drummer wearing a skull mask, and a keyboard player that reminded me of Lawrence’s computer technician with 150 extra pounds, Flat Atom brought a whole new dynamic to the B.O.B. Soon, however, the sounds of angry synth-metal died down and Flagship took the stage.

This band featured flowery guitar lines, tasteful vocal harmonies, and an all-around warm and inviting contemporary rock sound. Flagship’s ability to strike a chord with the audience and draw them in earned them second place in the final standings and first in the Audience Choice award.

Next up was Quarter to Never. Other than the novelty of seeing two really old guys playing music with two really young guys, they offered nothing new in their classic rock formula, and it showed in the audience’s response.

Varuna, containing some of Lawrence’s own in the lineup, showed eclectic musical stylings and enthralling grooves, earning itself recognition from the B.O.B. staff. The band’s rendition of the depressing song “Mad World” by Tears for Fears, and an instrumental Bob Marley tribute, were especially impressive.

A perfect close to the evening came when the six-piece blues-rock band Hightop took the stage, bringing enormous amounts of energy with them. They had musical talent, and solid song writing. Most importantly, they were a crowd-pleaser. Earning the only encore performance of the day, it became clear which band rocked LU the hardest. Hightop took home the coveted title of Best Band, with almost unanimous consent from the audience.

Filling in between acts was MC and comedian Alex House. She added a hilarious and occasionally offensive comedic transition element to the day, complete with jokes about Wisconsin, college life, and even a certain Lawrentian writer’s hairy feet. All in all, the day of music went very smoothly, thanks to all the members of SOUP who put their time and effort into providing Lawrence with a chance to rock out.