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Battle of the Bands

By Ian P. Campbell, Contributing Writer

To kick off this year’s Springfest, the University Council held a “Battle of the Bands” last Friday night in Lowell House courtyard. The event was held to determine which Harvard bands will open for The Verve Pipe on April 27.

The six bands who performed played for four hours to a changing crowd that totalled nearly 800 according to Undergraduate Council President Sujean S. Lee ’03.

From an initial pool of 13 bands, the UC whittled the selection down to six for the Battle—Diaco, Un Poquito Mas, Invisible Downtown, Soul Fège, Subject to Change, and Model Kit.

Diaco, Invisible Downtown and Un Poquito Màs will open Springfest.

“The criteria we gave them were: stage presence, appropriateness to the Springfest atmosphere and audience reaction at the Battle of the Bands,” Campus Life Committee member Zina L. Gelman ’03 said.

Diaco opened the Battle. The band is made up of three sophomore roommates in Cabot House, including Nicholas C. Diaco ’04 and Benjamin D. Scheuer ’04.

In addition to the challenge of warming the crowd up, the trio played especially well at the Battle considering their relative lack of experience playing together.

“Our first gig was the Battle of the Bands,” said Scheuer, lead singer. Scheuer said that at Springfest, Diaco will play both guitarist Diaco’s creations and covers influenced by bands from Frank Zappa to Phish to Bon Jovi.

Second up for the Battle of the Bands was Un Poquito Mas, a varied group that played Latin tunes appropriate for the warm day. Band members said Un Poquito Mas will play “Latin music from all over the world” at Springfest.

While Un Poquito Mas was certainly distinctive in its style of music, their performance was not as finely tuned as some of the other groups. Their energy was correspondingly low and Latin music that should have inspired dancing lost some of its pizzazz as spectators remained seated and somber. Hopefully, the band will acquire some energy for their performance at Springfest that was lacking on Friday.

Invisible Downtown followed, ending the first half of the Battle that ultimately garnered the three spots at Springfest. The band played professionally, although most of their successful songs were covers and their stage presence was far from overwhelming.

Soul Fège’s performance was a welcome break from the decidedly rock oriented sound of the other bands. Lead by Jonathan Gramling ’98, this band’s older status probably kept it from being selected by the UC judges.

The band played R&B as well as soul, replete with saxaphone, trumpet and guitar accompaniment. Sounding like a mix between Bob Marley and the P-Funk Allstars, Soul Fège had seemed a likely choice to go on to Springfest.

Subject to Change, the fifth band on the ticket, was also remarkably talented, presenting another difficult challenge for the judges. Despite playing one song with an electric violin, the poor sound quality during its set and its similar style to Invisible Downtown probably hurt the band’s chances in the end.

Then there was Model Kit. The punk trio played last, after sunset, after it started getting cold and the crowd dropped off.

Their set, however, as the remaining audience would affirm, was intense and spirited, with a stage presence that few of the other groups could muster.

The group knocked down stage equipment, in full-punk mode.

Lowell tutor Marshall Poe echoed the crowd’s response to Model Kit, exclaiming “They were great, weren’t they?” before imploring the trio to do an encore.

But despite the difficult choices the UC faced, all three winners of the Battle of the Bands should rock hard at Springfest before The Verve Pipe takes over.


Battle of the Bands

Lowell House Yard

April 12

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