DNA Lounge’s Battle of the Bands nears finale with fresh sounds, debut of alumni band RonDre

DNA Lounge’s summer Battle of the Bands series continued Sunday night with a lively seven-piece ska group, Day Labor, that juiced up the crowd the minute they filtered in the door.

The event at this San Francisco nightclub spanned six hours and featured eight bands of all different genres. Each band was given half an hour to wow the crowd from the small stage in a loft separate from the main club. Only three bands would be selected for the final contest and it was up to the crowd to choose.

A two-piece band called RonDre. came second and set a tone that was markedly different than Day Labor’s wild start. Ronnie Carter and Andre Cruz are both SFSU alums and have been working on their music since 2010.

Carter said that she and Cruz attended school at different times and didn’t meet until they worked together at a summer camp. She majored in English literature, while Cruz got his degree in psychology.

“The longer I was in college, the less I wanted to study music,” Carter said. “When I graduated, I was burnt out on reading, so I stopped for a long time. But studying literature actually made me a stronger songwriter.”

This was the group’s first time participating at the Battle of the Bands, and their set up was simple. Both members stood with their instruments—Cruz with his bongo drum and Carter with her guitar. They performed four songs and the crowd drew closer to the stage after the first song.

Cruz worked with a trance-like enthusiasm on his drum while Carter sang and played guitar. The result was relaxing, unique and bordered on haunting, with long guitar/drum interludes.

“While I took many classes that served to broaden my horizons, my psychology degree didn’t have much to do with it,” Cruz said, looking back on his time at State. “I’ve found that the classes I took at SFSU allowed me to have a better perspective on life choices.”

The crowd gave them an enthusiastic send-off, despite deciding not to push them through to the finals.

“I think I had a great time tonight and I was really happy just to play here,” said Tim Knapton, vocalist of Bay Area metal band A Human Costume. “The crowd was really amazing.”

He initially expressed uncertainty about the prospect of winning, but 40 minutes later, his band was boosted to the finals.

The finalists were all a shade heavier: Foreign Frontier, The Institution and A Human Costume. The winner of the final round will receive $500 in cash, 20 hours of studio time and a headlining gig at DNA Lounge.

The date for the final round of Battle of the Bands has not been announced yet, but the initial rounds are held monthly. More information is available on DNA Lounge’s website at dnalounge.com.