Annual ‘Battle of the Bands’ in need of diversity

“I’m all about the energy. The energy is key – I love it,” said Risky, winner of the third-annual Last Minute Productions’ Battle of the Bands.

After five performances on Tuesday night, March 21, the student audience decided Yung Bush aka Risky would win it all – which was a ticket to see the upcoming Wale concert featuring Niykee Heaton on April 20 at the Ramsey center.

See what Yung Bush had to say about the night and his energetic performance.

“The prize was only disclosed to the bands that signed up,” said Kimberly Occancey, the LMP representative who turned the gears of this year’s battle.

This year’s prize was not nearly as large as the 2015 battle’s prize.
“We just wanted to try something new,” said Occancey.

In 2015, the winner Fault Union’s prize was opening for We The Kings, a popular pop-punk group. Fault Union also received a trophy and gift bag filled with a portable speaker, a WCU glass, and a few small items for each member. Eight acts performed in the 2015 battle.

2016 was a different scenario. In fact, no group won the battle because it turned into a showcase due to a lack of acts signing up. Instead, five groups performed in exhibition and were refunded the money they used to register.

Fast-forward to a year later, and the event was once again a battle. The groups included: Yung Bush, Yoko Bera, L3ft handD1D, Leoeirra, and Rhythm of the Willow. Four of the five acts were rap or rap-style artists excluding Rhythm of the Willow, a funk-groove rock band.

L3ft handD1D was the only returning act, but he had no reason for returning other than exposure for his music.

“This one wasn’t as good as last year,” said Tevin Henderson, L3ft handD1D artist. “The whole vibe of it was better, the crowd was participating more, it was more diverse – it wasn’t just a certain type of sound the entire time.” Henderson says his music is a mix of poetic-style and rap.

See how L3ft handD1D got his start and part of his performance.

Members of Rhythm of the Willow were on the same page as Henderson.

“I think we just needed more diversity,” said Ethan Monte-Parker, member of Rhythm of the Willow, laughing. “Don’t get me wrong, I love rap and it’s been apart of culture since the 90s up until now.”

Here’s part of Rhythm of the Willow’s performance and a few words from them.

Perhaps there would have been more diversity if bands from last year signed up.  Last year’s performances included a rock cover band, a folk/bluegrass group, a metal group, L3ft handD1D, and a rap trio.

“[In 2016] there was a lot of confusion in the sign-up process,” said Chris Benavides, bassist for last year’s participant Clowns Hate Tangelos. “At one point we had to pay [for registration], then we didn’t – it was wishy-washy. We also didn’t know when we were going on until it all started. There was a preemptive schedule but it changed last second.”
Clowns Hate Tangelos chose not to sign up this year.

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