By David Robin
The most exciting part of the last Battle of the Bands, the semifinals, was the realization that the Battle of the Bands finals would only be three weeks after. Those 21 days could not have passed slower, although there was amazing weather during the last few weeks. On Thursday, April 24, the wait was over and the Battle of the Bands finale was going to take place.
The night began at 8:00 pm. I took a spot next to the stage, just like during the semifinals. One major difference with the finals was that only three bands were playing, so only one stage was needed. The advantage of this setup was that people would only need to pay attention to one stage and would not have to move around to see different bands. However, bands would need to setup so there would be some downtime between each of the three bands’ set. Fortunately, there were raffles throughout the night for tickets for the “Grapes of Wrath” performances on campus and other prizes. These raffles were during the intermissions and it made the concert flow much better. There were many guest judges including Johanna Sousa, Professor Paul Bingham, and Mark Mendoza, from Twisted Sister. In addition, the host was a personality from WBLI, the radio station.
Honus Wagner was the first band to perform and they played a great set. The three-piece band contains Gary Jacobelli on drums and vocals, James Pelowski on guitar and vocals, and Mike Taffet on bass and backup vocals. Mike mentioned how they wanted to play completely different songs for the finals. While some new songs were played, they did repeat a few songs from the Semifinals. However, it was a good way to keep the band fresh and led to an energetic set. They played mostly original songs like “If I Had the World in my Hands I Would Throw it Away”, “Come Get it”, “Just”, “On My Knees”, “Philip H Chesterborough” and “Dreams”. They also played “Black Crow Blues”, a Bob Dylan cover. Taffet kept up his standard of crowd interaction, hopping off of the stage and playing in the crowd. At one point one of my friends put a sombrero on Taffet’s head and he played for a few minutes while wearing it. The crowd seemed into the music and Honus Wagner received a great crowd reaction. After their set, the next band, Thursday was Cloudy, set up for their set while the first raffles of the night took place.
Thursday was Cloudy is a four piece band with Phil on Guitar, drums and vocals, Dave on guitar and vocals, and Tim on bass. According to their MySpace, they have a self-titled album coming out on August 16. They played a solid set like last time, repeating a few of their songs from the semi-finals mixed with some new songs. Their music contained many catchy guitar riffs that led into nice breakdowns even though their singing style was much less hardcore. Many of their songs had lyrics that were described by some as emo, but, which blended very well with the hard-hitting guitar parts. They did not really move much on stage, but showed energy with their expressions, and this radiated into the crowd. After playing for well over a half hour, they departed and Mother F’Nature set up for their set.
After just barely losing another raffle (I was two numbers away!), I listend as Mother F’Nature began their set and it felt like they brought the same energy they had from the semifinals into the finals. Mother F’Nature is Patrice Zapiti on vocals and acoustic guitar, Dan Wortley on bass, Max Tieze on guitar, and Dan Martingano on bass. They started off with technical problems, as there was too much feedback on one of the guitar amps and this led to a feedback chant from some in the crowd. They thought they fixed the problem, but then after one song, realized that there was still a problem with the guitar amp. Patrice and the rest of Mother F’Nature handled the situation very well, and after a few minutes of people holding their breaths, they were able to continue their set. Mother F’Nature seemed to have a strong fanbase, as there were a few people right in the front just jamming out to the music. In addition, Mother F’Nature realized that they wanted more fan support and summoned the crowd closer to the stage, which led to a more intimate feel. They continued their set, mixing both songs played at the semifinals and newer songs. By the end of their set, the whole crowd was into it and this led to their final song, “Misery Business”, a cover of the Paramore song. Many people in the crowd knew the song and sang along, which was a strong ending to the band’s set.
While waiting as the judges to deliberated, concertgoers enjoyed another raffle that I just barely lost. If only I came one minute earlier, I would have won an iPod shuffle. Either way, the judges soon came to a decision, and the result was read with the second runner up first. This lead to an anticlimactic confusion, because once the first runner up was announced, everybody knew who the winner was. Honus Wagner was the second runner up and Thursday was Cloudy was the first runner up. See how anticlimactic that was? Mother F’Nature won the Stony Brook 2008 Battle of the Bands which led to a loud ovation from some in the crowd. Each band won a monetary prize and Mother F’Nature singer, Patrice, announced that the money would help pay for the broken guitar amp and a new guitar plug.
While this event was a step in the right direction for the Stony Brook music scene, more events like this need to occur. Once again, people came to the Black Box Theatre in the Tabler Arts Center to see a competition and hear live music. If more concerts happen on campus and attendance continues to skyrocket, then Stony Brook may one day be the next SUNY Purchase. Stony Brook needs people who have a passion to play music and people who want to hear them play. All it takes is balls, sweat and creativity.