Small Talk did not advance past the preliminary round of Boston College’s Battle of the Bands on Friday as the group did last spring. And if there was any takeaway from this weekend’s competition, it was that this year, nothing should be taken for granted.
This will be especially important for previous winners Lucid Soul and Juice to remember as they advance to round two of the contest alongside newcomer Infidel Castro. Juice won a heated competition last year, and Lucid Soul in 2013. At the end of every spring semester, the winner of Battle of the Bands performs as the opening act at Modstock—a massive concert staged each year in the Mod parking lot on the last day of classes. In past years, Juice and Lucid Soul opened for Hoodie Allen and Macklemore, respectively: an enviable gig for any BC artist.
This honor, however, will be harder to come by this time around. The University’s independent music scene is becoming increasingly saturated with artists. These band events, once drawing only a modest crowd to the Vanderslice Cabaret Room, now pack the venue to capacity. In terms of talent, there are also plenty more faces looking around the room. Infidel Castro and the Keytones both played strong inaugural sets at the competition. This year’s title does not necessarily belong to the two previous champs in the running.
The Keytones, though eliminated on Friday, showed tons of promise for years to come, with lead singer Chris Dalla Riva, A&S ’17, exuding a retro, Buddy Holly-esque charm in “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “I Want You To Know.”
Infidel Castro, headed by Shravan Challapalli, A&S ’16, was perhaps the biggest surprise of this year’s competition. Most everything was still in flux when the rock group took to the stage, second to last in a line-up of five groups. But with Challapalli’s impassioned closing guitar solo—singularly one of the most powerful moments of Friday’s contest—it became readily apparent that the other four bands were competing for two spots rather than three.
Even 8-man wonder Juice—a BC favorite that heralds a large crowd wherever it appears—was left in close contest after Infidel Castro’s impressive showing. The balance of power had slightly shifted moving into Juice’s closing set, and for a moment, everything felt up in the air.
Keeping it fresh, Juice performed “Shoot Me Down” and “Gold”—a well-mixed cocktail of sound bringing out the band’s versatile, genre-shifting tastes and talents.
— BC Arts Council (@BC_ArtsCouncil) March 14, 2015
Lucid Soul, a time-tested jam band with a warm stage dynamic that keeps the group closely tethered to the hearts of the crowd, reminded its audience just how it got to Modstock two years ago. “Aint No Other Way (Topless Funk)” and “Wasting Daylight” were familiar selections for those who follow the band. The latter has, over the past couple years, become a staple for Lucid Soul. This is the final Battle of the Bands competition for the group of seniors, and “Wasting Daylight” felt quite apropos for the evening.
Moving into Arts Fest, however, Lucid Soul will need to push back slightly on crowd expectations. With both Infidel Castro and Lucid Soul deep in the rock category, differentiation will be key to both groups when competing against incumbent Juice, which has proven quite capable in hip-hop, R&B, and rock.
Friday’s event, hosted by the Music Guild and the Campus Activities Board, again outsized the contest the year before, both in terms of turnout and talent. At the night’s end, a couple bands were burned, and the remaining three were bound to the new, competitive reality of being a musician at BC, defined by a heightened expectation for unconventional, diverse talent. Which is terrible news if you’re just trying to perform at Modstock, and great news if you’re planning to be there to watch.
Featured Images By John Wiley / Heights Editor