The Glenn Miller Ballroom turned into a raucous music venue on Friday night, as eleven student bands competed in the fourth annual CU Battle of the Bands.
Competition was stiff – all eleven bands were solid and engaging – but when the dust cleared it was folk-rock act Second String that ran away with first prize.
Second place went to alternative rockers Some Random Band, while jazz-infused rock group Now Hear This claimed third.
“It was great, it went off smooth,” said Daniel Sax, who organized the event. “All the bands were awesome. We’d love to have all the bands back again.”
The groups were judged in six categories: musicianship, style, originality, stage presence, audience response and overall performance. The panel was made up of local Boulder musicians, record store clerks, promoters and other music experts.
Before their set, Second String took a moment backstage to huddle up and focus themselves.
“We’re just gonna keep it on cue, keep it bumpin’,” said drummer James Robinson moments before the band took the stage.
The band certainly kept it bumpin’, and for their efforts the judges awarded them the first place prize: studio mastering of a 10-song album from 8 Houses Down recording studio in Denver. In addition, Second String was invited to play a headlining gig at Club 156 sometime in the near future.
Some Random Band received a $50 gift certificate to Bart’s CD Cellar, a free tune-up from The Guitar Cellar and an opening slot at a future Club 156 show. Now Hear This received a guitar tune-up and an opening slot at Club 156.
The judges’ decision received mixed reviews from the crowd. Greg Henning, a junior history major, felt the judges made a wise decision.
“I like any group that has a violin,” Henning said.
However, sophomore humanities major Wendy Fernald felt indie-folk rockers Varlet should have won.
“They got the crowd going the most,” Fernald said.
Sophomore chemical engineering major Dana Hund agreed.
“The lead singer of Varlet’s voice is amazing,” Hund said.
Chris Rankin, a Bart’s CD Cellar clerk who judged the contest, picked indie/experimental group Me Llamo Rosa as his personal favorite.
“I liked them because they were different. That’s a big thing for me,” Rankin said.
Other crowd favorites included hip-hop group Higher Ed and reggae/hip-hop group Rogue Sound.
The event, put on by the Program Council and the Dennis Small Cultural Center, also included live painting by artists from Illiterate Magazine, a raffle, free food and a break dancing demonstration from the Front Range Rockers.
“It was kind of an impromptu show on our part, but it went pretty well,” said Katya Hott, who runs the Front Range Rockers. “Hopefully people see that old school hip-hop is alive and here in Boulder.”
Hott is also the president of the CU Breakers, a breakdance club that meets Mondays and Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. at the rec center volleyball courts.
Zach Gibbs, a sophomore chemical engineering major, was the lucky recipient of the raffle grand prize: a brand new acoustic guitar.
“I don’t play guitar, but now I’m gonna start,” Gibbs said.
Sax said this Battle of the Bands set a new standard for the annual event.
“This is the first year it was in the Glenn Miller Ballroom, and it was great,” he said. “It was definitely one of the smoothest Battle of the Bands ever.”