Students of California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) brought talent to the Black Box Cabaret (BBC) at this year’s annual Battle of the Bands competition on Oct. 25. The show featured eight different performances (two bands and six solo-duo acts) and was judged by two music and performing arts department faculty members, as well as the Otter Student Union (OSU) vice chair and fourth-year Trevor Peterson.
Returning victors, Addalemon, won first place in the band category and will open at CSUMB’s spring music festival, Otterlands. Self-described as skate punk, the trio rocked the stage with fiery leaps and drops from vocalist Cameron Karren.
In the span of 30 minutes, Addalemon blew through their exhilarating debut album “Ripe.” The crowd chanted emphatically at anthems such as “Cheap Thrills” and “I Hate My Job.” Prior to the show, Karren, wearing a shirt that said “LIFE,” tossed lemons into the crowd that were later autographed. It’s clear that CSUMB will be happy to see them again in the spring.
Second place in the band category was awarded to up-and-coming group, Loz Troubadours.
“We were pretty hyped to play at the BBC,” said fifth-year vocalist and guitarist Saxon Ahern. Save for a cover of “Take it or Leave It” by Cage the Elephant, the six performed original songs including “Loner,” “Waiting for You” and “Sugar Mama.” Loz Troubadours demonstrated a mastery of creating complex arrangements within the indie-rock genre, as well as exercising solid group cohesion.
“I thought we vibed well together and we had a nice connection throughout playing the set,” said fifth-year Erik Mercado, who plays the tambourine and trumpet. Their EP, “Loner,” will be out within the next few weeks.
Fifth-year Daniel Cortes won first place in the solo-duo category for his emotive covers of “Pride and Joy” by Stevie Ray Vaughan and “Better Man” by Pearl Jam. “[The songs] were a good representation of all the styles I’m into, to blues and rock and contemporary rock n’ roll,” Cortes said.
The judges noted his strong command of the guitar, best exemplified as he interluded his intro and transition with Tom Misch-reminiscent chording. “I have an ear for structure … the ebbs and flows of a song,” Cortes said.
Second place was awarded to Ricardo Alire, who brought DJ-ing to the Battle of the Bands for the very first time. Most notable elements of his performance included a strong on-stage presence and danceable set. Alire’s creativity and invention within the competition have paved the way for future contenders.
Esteemed pianist and vocalist Noah Wuollet received an honorable mention. Wuollet sang “Plush” by Stone Temple Pilots, “Novacaine” by Green Day, “Like a Stone” by Audioslave and an original song titled “My Last Breath.” Wuollet’s delicate playing and sensitive vocals captivated the audience; his talent was definitely worth recognition.
Soloists like first-year Megan Bos and duos like the returning Double-A still provided incredible performances.
“Everything was organized, all the [groups] played well,” said first-year Joseph Hernandez.
Although it was a contest, the BBC community built an encouraging event that allowed attendees and performers alike to enjoy themselves. “I think it’s really cool how supportive this environment is … it’s really cool to see the community here, just everyone participating,” Hernandez said.