Binghamton University students lined up outside the Undergrounds on Friday night waiting to hear 10 bands for the chance to open for this year’s Spring Fling headliner.
Ultimately, alternative rock band POOL stole the show and was crowned first place, with the rock band The Nesbitts following in second. But there was a diverse slate of bands that performed, with genres ranging from soulful rock to death metal. The room was crowded with students, and some were left standing in the back.
According to Max Maurice, the vice president for programming for the Student Association, the Student Association Programming Board hosted the Battle of the Bands contest due to a lack of contestants participating when the event was previously hosted by BU’s Late Nite Binghamton program.
Maurice shared that the turnout for this year was significantly higher than previous years, in which only three or four applicants signed up to compete. Additionally, this year’s Battle of the Bands was advertised to all genres of music, as opposed to in year’s past when it was advertised as a rock competition.
“I like the opportunity for students to showcase their talent and to say they opened for a big musical act,” said Maurice, a senior majoring in electrical engineering.
Four judges decided which band got the opening gig for Spring Fling. These judges included Hannah Hersch, the concert chair and a senior majoring in accounting; Rachel Levy, the undergraduate coordinator for Late Nite Binghamton and a junior triple-majoring in political science, history and philosophy, politics and law; Jennifer Keegin, the associate director of campus activities; and Milton Chester, the assistant dean for off-campus programs and services.
Maurice said the bands were judged on their showmanship, crowd responsiveness, the originality of their music and how they showcased their energy and passion.
Besides the two winners, contestants included student acts such as Apollo and Dionysus, Rapboy300000 and The Landshark Committee.
Apollo and Dionysus performed death metal.
“We really just want to melt the audiences faces off [with our music],” said group member Robert Petruso, a sophomore majoring in electrical engineering.
The band’s goal was to introduce death metal to the BU community.
“We probably won’t win tonight because we’re death metal, but we just want to have a fun time on stage,” Petruso said. Regardless, the crowd still gave a positive response.
The Landshark Committee also performed on Friday night. The band includes a saxophone player that added a touch of jazz to their music, and its lighthearted sounds got the audience dancing and singing along, especially during a cover of Ray Charles’ song, “Let’s Go Get Stoned.”
The duo Rapboy300000 and Squid brought high energy to the stage with their original song, “Alternative Facts,” and had the crowd laughing with their satirical rap lines about modern day politics. At the end of their performance, they literally dropped the mic and walked off the stage.
Despite not winning the first-place prize, The Nesbitts are still guaranteed a spot to sing at the festival during the day as the runner-ups.
Christopher Kaya, a junior majoring in psychology and a member of The Nesbitts, shared how thrilled he felt to have made it this far, especially since the band came in last place the previous year. The band includes Kaya; Matthew Brennan, a junior majoring in English; Tom Galvin, a junior majoring in political science; and Ryan Lupia, a sophomore majoring in integrative neuroscience.
“We’re really just four nerds who really love music,” Galvin said.
Kaya explained that the band started out by playing music in a garage during middle school and throughout high school, and all of those members ended up attending BU. Recently, they added Brennan as the lead vocalist. Currently, the band is in the process of recording a new EP.
The first-place winner, POOL, is an alternative rock band that was formed just two months ago, with some members of last year’s winner, The Three 4s. POOL consists of Eric Sabshon and Robert Castriota, both sophomores majoring in finance; Sage Gibbons, a junior double-majoring in biology and environment studies; and Joe Gallo, a sophomore majoring in industrial engineering.
The band members shared that they practiced three days a week to prepare for Battle of the Bands, and are excited by the win.
“We want to put on the best damn show that we can ever give,” Gallo said.