The third annual Battle of the Bands sponsored by 91.3 WTSR Saturday in the Rathskeller almost didn’t happen.
“We got a call that Example, one of the bands scheduled to play, broke up,” Gavi Raab, junior marketing major and promotional director for the radio station, said.
“We almost didn’t have a venue and when we got here, the sound box was locked. This has happened every year,” Raab said. “We’ve had a drummer break his arm and trucks break down. Something always goes wrong.”
“Don’t worry; this will be the greatest event ever! It will work out perfectly,” Mandy Hauck, sophomore communication studies major and promotions director for the radio station, said. Hauck’s optimism set the upbeat tone for the event which, despite minor setbacks, successfully took place.
Judged by two staff members of WTSR and a representative from Attic Studios, the bands were vying for one of two top places.
The first place winner received a contract for a 250 sticker pack from Contagious Graphics, a spot in a summer show at the venue Local Sounds, recording time at Attic Studios in Doylestown, Pa., and high rotation at the radio station.
Second place also received a spot in the summer show at Local Sounds and rotation at the radio station.
Repeating Goodbye, fronted by freshman communication studies major Neil Wusu, took home the first-place prize.
Audience members compared Repeating Goodbye’s sound to that of such bands as Fall Out Boy, Saosin and Hawthorne Heights.
“We want to establish ourselves as a viable force in the notoriously crowded New Jersey music scene,” reads the band’s biography.
Wusu announced that the band is competing for a coveted spot on the Warped Tour and urged audience members to vote for them.
The crowd responded to their high-energy show.
Second place went to the last band of the evening, Head Traffic. Playing their fifth show at the Rat, Head Traffic brought something unique to the show with a harder sound, very high energy and haunting vocals.
Citing influences such as U2, Faith No More and Depeche Mode, Head Traffic put on an impressive set that had vocalist Vic Fraternale jumping off the drum set and coming down to sing in the crowd.
“They are really great musicians,” junior journalism major Whitney Sandford said, “but they’re not just talented, they have a solid sense of genre and of what they want from their music.”
The first band to take the stage was Still Pink from Norfolk, Va. This pop-punk power-combo of guitar, bass and drums evoked early Weezer and Saves the Day with a strong melodic quality reminiscent of early ’90s alternative rock.
Still Pink is on tour promoting “Airing,” its full-length debut album, and the band’s dedication to its music and its fans is obvious.
“We slept in our van last night and haven’t eaten anything all day,” bassist Chris Cloyd said, “so if anyone has extra meal points for a buffalo chicken wrap that’d be great.”
In between sets, Raab and Hauck got on the microphone to raffle away prizes to lucky audience members. Raffle winners got WTSR prize packs, cases of Rockstar energy drinks and gift cards to Princeton Record Exchange.
The next band to take the stage was Pegasus Jetpack, a self-described psychedelic trip into indie acoustic rock with a wistful yet crashing sound. The band opened with a cover of The Secret Machines’ “Nowhere Again” and followed with other covers as well as original tunes from its CD.
“We give out CDs like candy because we want to get out there,” frontman and freshman business major Jon Irizarry said.
In true WTSR Battle of the Bands spirit, there was a slight hitch in plans when bassist Rick Rogers broke a string, causing the band to cut down its set due to time constraints.
“We were going to play ‘Twist and Shout’ for everybody,” Irizarry said, “but there will be no twisting or shouting.”
Canceled performances and broken bass strings aside, the third annual WTSR Battle of the Bands turned out to be a resounding success.