The battle was fought and funk emerged victorious. On Saturday night, The Funkophiles won this year’s Battle of the Bands, making them the opening act for the Spring Fling concert this weekend.
The Funkophiles are a seven-piece band that was formed just over a year ago by vocalist and bassist Ife Samms. Impressively, the band’s current lineup has only been together for a month.
Even though Samms thought the band had the potential to win, she said she was thrilled when it became a reality.
“It’s an honor to be able to have this gift and to be able to do something like this,” said Samms, a senior double-majoring in Japanese and music. “It’s something that is really going to go to touch a lot of people. It’s bigger than us and I’m just glad we could play a part in it.”
Five bands competed on Saturday night, narrowed down by the judges from nine the night before. In the final round, bands each played two original songs and, following the theme of this year’s competition, a cover of a classic rock song. The competition was held in the Undergrounds and hosted by Late Nite.
Samms said she was thankful that student bands got the chance to potentially play before big-name headliners like Matt and Kim.
“To just give students this opportunity to open for these professional bands that are really well-known and that are traveling all over the world just like that, I think that’s awesome,” Samms said.
The energy in the crowd was clear, as students rose from their seats and danced to some of Binghamton’s finest talent. Each band had no trouble connecting with the crowd and it was easy to picture any of the competitors performing for Spring Fling’s larger audience.
“A lot of people come out [for the Battle of the Bands],” said Allison Hackman, a senior majoring in Spanish. “Being a senior, most of the things I do are off campus, but I still come here for this.”
Laura Keim, a senior majoring in music and the lead vocalist and bassist for Liberty Belle and the Union Boys, who came in second place, was excited to be performing for the crowd.
“I have always loved performing, it’s such a rush,” Keim said. “We get so much enjoyment out of playing for other people and the energy is what’s amazing. Playing the Battle of the Bands, you’re excited already and it’s just a feeding frenzy of excitement.”
With big names coming for this year’s concert, students were excited that an on-campus band would get a chance to perform next Saturday.
“To be given an opportunity to play music for a crowd of your peers is amazing for the school to allow students to do,” said Keren Orr, a sophomore majoring in environmental studies.
Mariana Moriello, the Student Association vice president for programming, was one of the judges of the competition. Like Orr, she was enthusiastic about involving a student band in Spring Fling’s main concert.
“It’s super exciting to have a student band open at Spring Fling because the show is put on by students for the students,” Moriello, a senior double-majoring in anthropology and psychology, wrote in an email. “I think it really shows unity and shows the support that students have for each other!”
As for deciding who the winner would be, Moriello felt that it was The Funkophiles’ creativity and ability to interact with the crowd that gave them the edge.
“I think Funkophiles won because they were creative in their cover songs,” Moriello wrote. “Each one of them knew how to play their instrument with expertise and they were super comfortable with each other. In the beginning the crowd was skeptical but by the end they had the crowd going wild.”
This year’s Battle of the Bands was more than a competition, however. For Justin Mulvaney, a senior double-majoring in economics and mathematics and the drummer of third-place winner Strange Appeal, playing the show was more than an opportunity to win a prize. It was also a time to appreciate what Binghamton’s student bands have to offer.
“Battle of the Bands is the one time that every band in the local music scene gets to play together,” Mulvaney said. “So it’s kind of cool that you get that sense of fraternity. Even though it is a competition, you get all of the musicians together in the same place and you really just get to hang out with each other for a weekend.”