By Julian De Ocampo ’13
Once the music started, there was scarcely a moment of silence during the annual Battle of the Bands concert, which took place in the Octagon on Valentine’s Day.
The Feb. 14 concert, which was canceled and replaced last year by an online performance video contest, marked the welcome return of the annual competition in the live setting.
Its return featured a few key changes to the format: more bands, a panel of judges and two stages that ensured the time waiting between bands was reduced to virtually nothing.
The event, put on by the Musician’s Exchange Club, was organized with help from Exchange moderator Mr. Lane McShane ’82, who said that the assembly of two stages was made possible due to additional equipment provided by Student Council.
The panel of judges was comprised of faculty members Mr. John Damaso ’97, Mr. Matt Williams ’07 and Mr. Christopher Calderon, S.J., as well as experienced alumni musicians Dan Long ’03 from The Deer Leader and Jimmy Newquist ’88 from Caroline’s Spine. This marked a departure from previous years, where the winner was decided largely through student voting.
The judges evaluated the bands using a score sheet based on another Brophy performance event, Poetry Out Loud. The sheet included scores for physical presence, voice and articulation, crowd response, level of difficulty and evidence of band experience.
“This year, the model seemed very functional,” Mr. McShane said. “We’ve been waiting for that for a long time. Now we don’t have to sweat (next year’s show.)”
The sun was still out as the first act, Roan & the Enrights, took the stage. The band’s members (Charles Dominguez ’14, Brendan Bohanon ’14 and Jacob Browning ’14) tore through a quick set of covers ranging from The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” to LCD Soundsystem’s “Daft Punk is Playing at My House.”
Despite their namesake, Roan Enright ’13 did not actually play in the band, although he was present in the crowd as he heard his repurposed name spoken from Dominguez.
Dominguez complemented his duties as singer with ukulele and cowbell playing.
Almost immediately after the band finished their set, music courtesy of Reed of His Gentlemen began from stage two.
The band, composed of a mixture of students from the Arizona School of the Arts and Brophy students Will Harris ’15 and Carter Santini ’15, was notable for being one of the only bands that night to solely play original compositions.
Bassist Santini said that the band prefers to play original compositions because their singer and drummer, who goes to ASA, believes original songs better express who a band is.
Despite their name, nobody named Reed actually plays in the band. Santini said he’s never met “Reed,” who goes to ASA, despite being “his gentleman.”
“He quit and they asked me to take his place,” Santini said. “There’s no Reed in the band. We feel like Reed and the Gentlemen just sends a message to Reed. On the off chance we become successful, we can be like, ‘Well, Reed…’”
The band, which has previously played shows at venues like the Trunk Space, switched off instruments throughout their set, hopping from keyboards to drums and trading places.
After playing through their alternative rock compositions, a very different sound came from the opposite stage from Austin Groen ’13 and Jake Petty ’13.
Clad in a mixture of sleeveless flannel, camouflage pants, blue jeans and cowboy and trucker hats, the two took the stage under the moniker of The Old Dirt Road Boys to regale the crowd with country covers.
Petty strummed his guitar and sang along with Groen to an enthusiastic audience of seniors who seemingly appeared with the sole intention of hearing the duo.
The band provided a dose of country music to a night that was largely dominated by alternative and indie rock acts like You Wouldn’t Believe, who took to the other stage immediately after.
The band (Alex Gross ’13, Anchal Jain ’13, Pratap Jayaram ’13 and Greg Goulder ’13) has become a regular staple at Brophy events, having formed more than three years ago and tightening their act up consistently since.
They took the stage as the sun began to set behind them and the crowd continued to snowball larger, thanks in part of Gabe Alba-Rivera ’13, who brought along with him a slew of Loyola Scholars looking to hear some live music.
The band played through a set of alternative crowd-pleasers, including The Arctic Monkeys’ “I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor,” which got the crowd – and the Loyola Scholars – moving their feet. Members of other bands in particular seemed to enjoy their set and danced among the rest of the crowd.
Soldiers of Virtue (featuring Antonio Sampaio ’15 and AJ Brown ’15) kept the momentum going next with a set of pop-punk anthems including The All-American Rejects’ “Dirty Little Secret.”
Upon taking the stage, Director of Scheduling Mr. Tony Oldani, who played a hand in organizing the event, grinned, looked around to fellow crowd members and said, “These guys are awesome. I saw them at Fine Arts Extravaganza.”
Their color-coordinated black-and-red shirts and ties provided a nice visual as they went through a set of covers including The Beatles’ “Revolution.”
The band’s tight playing eventually won them second place overall.
The increasing size of the crowd grew even more noticeable as The Bourgeois came on, featuring Andy Vainauskas ’15, Milo Charbel ’15, Ross Johnson ’15, Kyle Sheuring ’15, Carter Santini (also of the previously mentioned Reed and the Gentlemen) and Savannah Wix XCP ’15.
The sheer size of their band (which features a drummer, a bassist, an electric violinist, a guitarist, a singer and additional singing guitarist) almost prevented them from fitting on stage as the crowd packed in closer.
“Everyone kind of wants their say in the music, which is fine; our music is very dynamic because of it and has a lot of layers,” Santini said. “But there’s so many things to listen to every time … Our songs are probably better because of it, but it takes a lot of time to get everyone’s opinion on one part of a song.”
After fitting themselves on stage, they played through a cover of Weezer’s karaoke classic “Say It Ain’t So.” They played a few covers before announcing that they would play their first original song.
The band spent much of the set all-smiles as they moved around the stage and played around each other. Singer Wix walked into the crowd during a break in one song and danced with audience members to get their energy up.
Santini said that although he admits the band didn’t play the best set they could have, it was immense learning experience.
“It was rough, but we have definitely come a long way since then,” he said. “Afterwards, we pretty much had boot camp and said, ‘Okay, we need to polish these songs. We need to stop being nervous. We need to work on these songs every day on our own time.’ I think we benefitted a lot from that. We found out what works for us and what doesn’t.”
He said the band hopes to finalize a set-list and start looking for other opportunities to play by the end of this month.
Afterwards, Battle of the Bands winner Honeybadger, featuring Nick Kush ’13, Michael Lucero ’13, former student Matt McClean and University of Arizona student Brooke Smith, came onstage.
Afterwards, they played a few covers by Bob Marley and local act Black Carl. They were joined during a Pink Floyd cover by Charles Dominguez ’14 on trumpet.
The band debuted one original song that had the judges, the guest judges in particular, tapping their feet in enjoyment.
After the set, Kush said that he was happy to have won, despite not having expected the victory. He said that practices have been increasingly difficult because Smith, his girlfriend, lives in Tucson and had to drive down to Phoenix to practice and perform.
“I wasn’t expecting the win at all. It was a surprise, but it just feels good because I don’t do much Brophy stuff,” he said. “I wish I was more involved, and it feels good to take part in a Brophy event that I’m really passionate about.”
Kush said that the band’s future will be more about having fun and playing music than performing, but he will continue to work with McClean on new material.
Other musicians like Santini praised Honeybadger for their skill, although he did add that “Michael Lucero used my bass, so in my mind I still won.”
The basketball game that night began to draw even larger crowds for the next band, The Kards, consisting of Jared Grady ’15 and friends from other schools.
Another staple of Brophy live events, the band played through a set of alternative rock songs to the growing crowd.
Grady, who had spent most of the afternoon manning the soundboards behind the stage, let loose onstage as guitarist.
The night ended with a set from St. Rosemary, featuring Keaton Leander ’13 and Jeff Bennett ’13. The two, who have been performing at Brophy for years, drew some of the largest crowds of the night with their closing numbers, earning them a spot as third place.
The crowd cheered as the Leander and Bennett left the stage, marking the end of one of the largest productions the Musician’s Exchange has put on thus far.
“The goal is always to get a lot of students there,” Mr. McShane said. “When we started, there weren’t that many, but by the end of the evening, it snowballed in a very positive way.”