Bands compete for a chance to perform at Rhythms Fest
KJM, who won the Battle of the Bands, will open for Lupe Fiasco at The Annex on Saturday.
May 13, 2023
Guitar riffs belch from below the Cesar Chavez Student Center as the first band, Wild Metanoia, prepares on stage. The bassist plucks a familiar tune, increasing the thirst for rum as he plays the main theme to “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
This year’s Battle of the Bands event started at 6 p.m. as part of the 2023 Rhythms Music Festival hosted by Associated Students. As collaborators in Rhythms Music Festival, 91.7 KALW sent Paloma Abarca to MC the event and Devon Strolovitch to serve as one of the judges.
Just like the DJ Competition the night before, the show took place at The Depot.
Six bands signed up for the event. They would all be judged on five main categories and will be scored one through five for a total of 25 potential points.
The categories included stage presence, energy, musicianship, talent, song choices, songwriting, crowd reaction, originality and creativity.
Wild Metanoia was itching to play before the show had even started. Once they had the green light, it was straight to business. Without introduction, the band kicks off right into their original song “Robot.”
The bassist’s long hair danced between his fingers as he played the bassline to the song. The crowd showered them in applause as they announced their next song.
Ending his school day with live music, audience member Arturo Avila came to unwind before finals.
“[Wild Metanoia] had a good mix of shoegaze and 80s [era pop],” Avila said. “It was good, I liked it.”
The band would have time for two more songs before passing the stage onto the next.
Next up was Wisp: the crowd was especially excited for this performance as they broke out RGB lightsabers to wave in support.
Ready with his camera aimed at the lead guitarist, attendee Leon Huang came to show support for one of his homies.
“It’s my first time seeing Cristian play, he joined not too long ago so it’s their first time performing,” Huang said.
In a nice change of pace, Wisp serenaded the audience with a more melancholic vibe they call “Your Face.”
“I love you!” someone exclaims from the audience. “I love you more,” another rebutted.
The walls trembled with anticipation as a tide of lightsabers illuminated the room as the band began their second and final song, “Dreamer.”
The crowd was still pumping with adrenaline, as the band finished their last song only to be met with overwhelming fanfare demanding an encore.
They had no choice but to oblige.
Dripped out in a custom spiked leather jacket, Crapifornia would be next to perform. With appropriately spiky hair, lead singer Luis Fabian Gonzales addressed the crowd before they performed their set.
“I’m fucking nervous as fuck,” Gonzales said while fixing his stance and the mic. “We just made these songs.”
The duo opened with a Nirvana level of dramatism, a very somber but chunky song called “What.”
As the duo performed, the music resonated with the audience, reaching a level of nihilism as the self-deprecating lyrics reverberated through the air.
Moving away from the solemn vibe, the rest of their set ramped into a punkier display of their musical prowess.
Feeling they didn’t have enough time to prepare, Gonzalez expresses some frustrations the band has experienced at The Depot.
“It’s the second time we have performed at The Depot and the last time we had a similar experience,” Gonzalez said. “My mic just wasn’t loud enough.”
The smell of the Devil’s lettuce penetrated the air as Crapifornia took their leave, making way for the next band KJM, a trio consisting of two guitarists and a drummer.
“We are only three members. We don’t have a singer or a bassist,” said Marc Carranza,, a drummer for KJM.
No more context, just business as the group launched straight into their first song, a very upbeat and jaunty tune.
“Okay, how about a fast one?” Carranza suggested as the trio picked up the pace and kept the groove.
The warmth of Niah Steiner’s voice filled The Depot as she played the piano. Arms raised, light sabers held high to move in harmony with the lyrics.
Entranced by the cadence of her voice, the audience began to clap along.
Completely spinning the room on its heels, Viscelator took the stage with a guttural scream bringing a warrior’s fighting spirit to this Battle of the Bands.
Not leaving a second of dead air, the band performed its 15-minute set amplifying the energy of the crowd. A wave of adrenaline filled the room as a rush of instrumentals and lyrics hit their faces.
“Alright, you guys might know the words to this one, so sing along if you do,” exclaimed Viscelator’s lead singer as the band started playing a cover of Metallica’s “Master of Puppets.”
Thanking all the bands for their outstanding performances, Abarca took the stage one last time to announce the judges’ verdict.
With third place going to Wild Metanoia and Niah Steiner taking second, the winner of Battle of the Bands was KJM.
KJM is set to perform next Saturday for the last day of the Rhythms Music Festival as the opener for Lupe Fiasco.