With the stress of elections behind them, Student Government Association (SGA) members kicked back last Thursday night while four local bands took the stage and competed in the SGA-sponsored Battle of the Bands.
For the first time in weeks, the pressure and anxiety was off them and on the bands. In the end, Forward Motion outlasted The Gentleman’s Club, The Afterdance and The French Girls to claim first place.
Forward Motion, a four-piece progressive metal band formed right here at the College, took the stage first and grabbed the crowd’s attention by force. Well, force and appearance.
Bassist Ryan Godleski, sophomore graphic design major, sported a gray Catholic schoolgirl skirt, a Backstreet Boys T-shirt and face paint that could scare off even the most psychotic Oakland Raiders fan.
Ridiculous garb aside, the band mixed screaming guitar chords and artful keyboard parts with pulsating drum beats that forced listeners to stomp their feet, nod their heads and consider yelling out for no apparent reason.
The band opened with a fast-paced, guitar-driven piece called “Divine Intervention,” which stirred the calm crowd and evoked uproar upon conclusion.
They followed the song up with a cover of Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s rock opera rendition of “Carol of the Bells,” then closed with another original titled “Overdrive.”
Noticeably absent from Forward Motion’s nearly complete puzzle was a vocalist. Godleski said that the band has only been together since the Fall semester, so it hasn’t had time to pick up a singer yet.
Drummer Andrew Oliva, sophomore business administration major, still sweaty from an exhausting but brief set, described the type of singer the band wants.
“We’re looking for a powerful rock vocalist, like Chris Cornell (of Soundgarden and Audioslave),” Oliva said. “We don’t want to copy Dream Theatre or Rush. We’re past rock opera, they did that.”
The Gentleman’s Club, an indie/rock quintet from Warren County, N.J., followed Forward Motion and completely shifted the musical tone of the room. As the echo of synthesizer sounds bounced in. The band’s songs were held together by the infusion of 8-bit video game sounds from a synthesizer, which provided dancy power-pop hooks in the background of songs like “Seaside Party” and “Do You Feel It?”
“I’m just sick of emo,” defiant vocalist John Frankosky said. “I grew up listening to Radiohead, Wilco and Smashing Pumpkins. They’re the bands that motivate me to get on stage.”
Frankosky probably wasn’t happy then when the act that followed his, The Afterdance, turned out to be a third wave emo-punk band.
Following in the footsteps of bands like Amber Pacific and Halifax, The Afterdance attacked the crowd with dueling high-pitched poignant vocals and driving, albeit repetitive, guitar lines.
After the set, lead vocalist and bassist Kyle Macor, freshman chemistry major, informed the crowd of a competition the band had entered with mtvU.
“We entered as a joke, but ended up ranked in the Top 50 bands in the nation. We got voted into the next round (Top 25), and now we’re waiting to see if we make it into the Top 5,” Macor said. “Drive-Thru Records is going to pick from the Top 5 bands, and give one of them a record deal.”
The final band of the evening, the oddly named French Girls, provided the crowd with a 20-minute alt-rock assault led by a pair of boisterous guitars that at times drowned out the rest of the group.
The band was at the very least interesting, as they proceeded to borrow musical elements from several different time periods and genres.
They combined the simple lyrics of mid-’90s alt-rock with a proficiency for musical tangents like that of Gatsby’s American Dream.
In their next-to-last song, “Like Wicker We Burn,” the band seemed to borrow an edgy, loud guitar breakdown from experimental rockers Bear Vs. Shark.
“We like mixing genres,” vocalist Dom Lorusso said. “Our influences run the table from Gatsby’s American Dream, to Saves The Day, to As Tall As Lions. We listen to everything.”
As Forward Motion was named the winner, SGA president-elect Eric Pasternack and vice president of legal and governmental affairs-elect Mike Strom kicked back behind the refreshments table, enjoying their night off.
“Blair (Gumnick, vice president of administration and finance) just did a great job of putting this together,” Strom said, “It’s a great way to come down after all the stress of the past few days.”