Brother Gipson and the Mantra take the win at Battle of the Bands, set to open for Vince Staples


Brother Gipson and The Mantra performs in The Depot for the battle of the bands competition at SF State on April 11, 2017 in San Francisco, Calif. (Alina Castillo/Xpress)

The Depot at SF State filled with students and supporters Tuesday to watch the second event of the 7th Annual Rhythms Music Festival.

Five bands battled for a chance to win a cash prize of $500 and the coveted slot to open for Vince Staples, the main artist performing at Thursday’s festival.

Previous winner, Nick Hoffman of the band Faux Foe Fox, Mae Powell of KSFS and The Depot intern Mia Pedraza judged the bands at this year’s event. Hoffman, usually a spector at shows, found being a judge a completely different experience.  He specifically paid attention to performance, energy, musical technicality, originality and crowd response when judging the five competing bands.

As opposed to talking briefly with friends about what we liked about the night I will be stepping aside with other judges to deconstruct why we think who should move on,” Hoffman said.

Each band to take the stage included at least one SF State student member, a Rhythms Music Festival requirement. Colorblind Dilemma, Brother Gipson and the Mantra, The Den Brothers, Alpha Pride and Rocky G were selected from an initial application process and prepared to impress the judges Tuesday night.

Ori Harenstein, SF State student and Alpha Pride drummer, said the band prepared for the battle by playing shows around the city, rehearsing and recording to enhance their sound.

A recent trip into the recording studio ended up being a great opportunity to fine-tune our sound,” Harenstein said.

The night was set up in rounds, showcasing the bands in 15-minute sets during the first round, where their sound and stage presence were the judges’ main focus. Alpha Pride, Rocky G and Brother Gipson and the Mantra impressed the judges and advanced to the next round.

“I feel so empowered and thankful to get the opportunity,” Rocky Garcia of Rocky G said. “I just laid it all on the stage, put my heart out and hopefully it was enough for the judges to see.”

Rocky G did impress the judges, but the big winners of the night were Brother Gipson and the Mantra thanks to their stage presence and overall technical skills.

“Everybody that played was amazing,” Powell said. “I wish they could all open for Vince Staples but I really do think that Brother Gipson deserved it.”

DaMareon Gipson of Brother Gipson and the Mantra was ecstatic about the win and hopes the Vince Staples crowd will enjoy their sound.

“It’s a blessing…,” Gipson said. “I’m a big fan of Vince actually, so I definitely feel like my aesthetic will match his.”

The 7th Annual Rhythms Music Festival follows with a DJ Competition Wednesday and headliner Vince Staples performs Thursday.

Gipson’s last words of the night expressed just how appreciative his is for the opportunity to kick off Staples’ show.

“…it’s an honor to open up for him,” Gipson said.