Review: Battle of the Bands

Category: Music, General, Community

On Sunday 17th April I was lucky enough to be asked to judge the second annual Battle of the Bands inter-house competition.  I say lucky, because this really was a very well organised, well attended and slickly run affair, augmented by some early summer sunshine and an enthusiastic and encouraging audience. 

The format of interspersing three or four performances with some other activities (as far as I could tell a series of sweaty, fiercely contested tug of war contests) ensured high levels of audience engagement and some exuberant applause throughout.

What struck me first of all was the diversity of styles and instrumentation on display. Given that this was only one week into term let us not be shy about admitting that this feat of organisation by the pupils was pretty impressive.  There were, of course, the expected tools of rock and pop (drums, bass and guitar) but in addition to various houses drawing on brass, strings and woodwind, C2’s arsenal featured a laptop and vocoder. If you don’t know what the latter is I recommend having one to hand at your next dinner party once coffee has been served.

Click here for a gallery of images

Stylistically, we were treated to virtually every decade, from the Barton Hill trio giving a nod to 60s psychedelia with Whiter Shade of Pale, Littlefield’s 70s Bill Withers classic Ain’t No Sunshine and then Morris’s rendition of 80s staple Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. The New Millennium was well catered for as well, the highlight in terms of entertainment being Mill Mead’s colourful ladies blasting through recent chart hit All About That Bass, once they actually got going.

Deciding the placings was surprisingly tough, not least because in this kind of competition the cynic might have expected one or two acts to be so shambolic as to be placed straight onto the also ran pile with just one or two clear favourites - but this was definitely not the case! In the end C2 were close runners up with Get Lucky (Remix) and not just because of the flamboyant addition of brackets to their Nile Rodgers mash up. This was an energetic and well considered performance.

Top dogs though were Preshute, giving an excellent version of Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way, a song whose original version is such pop perfection that any attempt at an authentic cover needs to bring energy and chemistry as well as technical assurance. And with only the second band of the day we had just that, very well done to them.

Russell Carr
Visiting Music Teacher

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