Local bands impress during Rat competition

By Kimberly Ilkowski
Features Editor

Four local bands left it all on the stage at CUBRat and WTSR’s annual Battle of the Bands competition held in the Rathskeller on Tuesday, March 24, shredding, pounding and singing like they never have before.

North Jersey progressive metal band The Great Airport Mystery took home the night’s coveted title, earning their album high rotation on the College’s radio station.

Comprised of Ryan Gilpatrick on vocals, John Kennedy on guitar, Brian Heitman on bass and Mike Guevarez on drums, the band quickly transformed the atmosphere of the room from the previous acts. As the night’s last performers, the band exuded energy, embodied by Gilpatrick’s wild stage persona. Nothing was off limits, including jumping off the stage and running through the rows of tables, sitting on barriers and swinging the microphone around, Adam Lazzara style.

The band performed tracks off their February released EP “Voyager” as well as the full-length “The Great Spaceport Mystery,” both of which are concept albums.

“Our first record was about the origins of humanity and space exploration,” Gilpatrick said, who admitted to being heavily inspired by the days of watching Star Wars VHS tapes. “Now our EP continues that story.”

The band of high school friends plans to release an acoustic EP this summer and hope to play as many shows as possible in the upcoming month.

The Great Airport Mystery wins the night’s top honor.  (Kimberly Ilkowski / Features Editor)
The Great Airport Mystery wins the night’s top honor. (Kimberly Ilkowski / Features Editor)

“It just feels fantastic. I wasn’t expecting it,” Gilpatrick said on the band’s first place win. “There was a lot of talent in here, and our style is a bit different. It’s not the same (type of) music, so I’m glad people could embrace it and have them see the passion we put into it. The audience seemed to get into it as much as we got into it.”

The rest of the night’s performers did not leave empty-handed. The three other acts will be put into WTSR’s local rotation, which commonly features talent from all over the area.

Where Is My Spaceship put on an impressive punk set earlier in the night. Lead by Josh Evensen, clad in stud-toed combat boots and a kitten shirt, the band was a mash up of early Green Day’s heavy basslines and the earnest lyrics of fellow Jersey outfit The Front Bottoms.

“This might be the most people I’ve played in front of,” Evensen said. “This is like a life milestone.”

Their full-length album “Mostly Crocodile” was created over the course of four years, with Evensen engineering, mixing and playing every instrument except the drums. The band hopes to play more shows outside of New Jersey and work on their next record throughout the rest of the year.

Trenton-based band Levelhead showcased their indie punk style with vocalist Damien McGown jumping around stage backed by T.J. Foster on bass, Dillion Mara on drums and Ethan Stout on guitar. They jammed to original songs like “Bare,” “Headlights” and “Spin Doctors.”

The night’s first performers, The Wailing Kids, featured Mike Sindora on vocals, Joe Morrongiello on drums and Matt Gibbons on bass. The Hamilton, N.J. rockers just released an EP this month entitled “I Saved Latin,” from which they played various tracks. Gibbons’ stoic presence on bass was contrasted by Morrongiello’s fast-paced, jackrabbit style drumming and Sindora’s animated bobbing.

The competition was an overall success, giving up-and-coming local bands the chance to display their talents and gain new fans.