Last Saturday night, Bryn Mawr hosted the Tri-Co Battle of the Bands, during which eight bands from all three Tri-Co schools competed for the chance to perform at Bryn Mawr’s May Day. Four of the eight bands competing at Bryn Mawr were Swarthmore student bands, two of which would ultimately go on to win the event.
A wide variety of genres of music were represented at Bryn Mawr’s Battle of the Bands, from Sarira, the only Bryn Mawr band, who play death metal/metalcore, to GOODGOODNOTBAD’s rap/jazz/funk combination, with a wide variety of rock bands in between. GOODGOODNOTBAD’s Stefan Laos ’17, who is also the drummer of Altair, explained this musical diversity as one of the highlights of the event.
“My favorite thing about the Battle was that they had so many different kinds of music to showcase,” said Laos. “That’s not always a given in a Battle of the Bands, but they had everything from rock to metal to bluegrass to our band, so it’s cool to hear so many different kinds of music in one place.”
Many musicians performing in the events reported enjoying the experience of performing in front of a Tri-Co crowd with professional lighting and sound work.
“It a was a lot of fun to play. As an experience, it was really great,” said Tiye Pulley ’19 of GOODGOODNOTBAD. “The sound was great, the space was really fun, the set up was really professional.”
“We all had a blast performing at the Battle of the Bands. We’re really grateful for all the effort that the BMCS puts into organizing this event each year,” said Andrew Szczurek of Bazmati Vice. “Getting to perform at a venue with professional quality lighting and sound tech is a rare opportunity for small college bands like us, so it’s always a very positive experience. This year in particular, we were really delighted with how smoothly everything went.”
“Caboose was really happy to play at the event – we felt that it was a great opportunity for us to introduce ourselves to the Tri-Co band community and really start to get our name out there,” said Henry Feinstein ’19 of Caboose. “The venue and the Bryn Mawr students running it were fantastic, and hopefully we’ll get a chance to play there again next year.”
However, the event was not without it’s hiccups. The organizers utilized an online polling method to gauge the crowd’s response to each bands. After each band’s performance, a link was provided to crowd where they could rate the band from one to five stars. Unfortunately, this system was susceptible to gaming, through coordinated voting or voting from people outside of the event. There were noticeable tensions among the competing bands during the event as a consensus seemed to emerge that one band was gaming the voting system.
. “The voting process was deeply flawed, I think with the best of intentions, but still deeply flawed,” said Pulley. “As an event it was really ambitious and it succeed in a lot of ways. But there were some difficulties with one group in particular, which caused tension among the other bands as well.”
“People broke the trust,” added Sam Wallach Hanson ’18, also of GOODGOODNOTBAD.
In a statement published on the event’s Facebook page, the organizers wrote “Bryn Mawr Concert Series values student input, and we depend on Tri-Co students to uphold the honor code to make the voting system work well. What that means in this context is just to vote once, to only vote if you were there, and to be fair to all the Battle of the Bands participants. When that trust is broken, it compromises the integrity of our entire process and negatively impacts the experiences of the wonderful bands who put on an awesome show for everyone.”
Ultimately, band members reported that, despite the voting issues, they enjoyed the opportunity to perform in the Battle of the Bands. Altair and Honey Pickup, along with a Haverford Band, Bazmati Vice, were chosen by the organizers as the winners of the event in place of using the poll results.
“We hadn’t heard any of the Swarthmore bands before, and damn, all four of them were spectacular,” said Szczurek. “Altair and Honey Pickup especially left a strong impression on all of us, so it’s truly a privilege to get to share the stage with them at May Day in a few weeks.”
All four Swarthmore bands will also be performing at the Swarthmore Battle of the Bands this Friday. Additionally, videos of several performances from the Tri-Co Battle of the Bands are available at the Bryn Mawr Concert Series Facebook page.