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Local Bands Rock the ’Dell

Neon Calm, Fluttr, and Sonic Bonnet Win ZBT’s Battle of the Bands

By Petar Simich

Staff Writer

ZBT’s Battle of the Bands

Lobdell Food Court

April 12, 8 p.m.

ZBT’s Battle of the Bands, held Saturday night at the Lobdell Food Court, was a spectacular evening. Ten bands performed three to four-song sets in competition for gift certificates to Guitar Center, while all proceeds were contributed to the Children’s Miracle Network.

First up was Bucky Spins, a group who put a little spin on the standard three-piece. The music sounded like some sort of ska-punk-swing hybrid with the bassist singing like Brad Nowell of Sublime. The bassist had some of the craziest body and facial expressions; as he sang “you suck my energy away” he’d stare blankly in the crowd and drop slowly to the ground. A rather humorous “demolition” ended the set with the drummer furiously destroying a pillow.

Second up was Plexus, a three-piece from Zeta Psi who won Sigma Kappa’s Late Night this year. They started off with an Ataris cover, followed by Weezer’s “Photograph.” The singing wasn’t very good, and you could barely hear the guitar. It was rather unremarkable.

Next was Fluttr, a five member band consisting of a singer, electric cello, guitar, drums, and marimba. The marimba is this cool xylophone-looking instrument that is played like a xylophone but can produce sounds like a keyboard/synthesizer. Fluttr had quite a unique sound that was atmospheric and captivating, thanks a lot to the marimba and cello.

Fourth was Our Friend Glenn, an MIT band that had their own screaming harem section. They’re a traditional four-piece guitar rock group with the basic rock song structures. The guitarists and bassist were good but unfortunately the drummer occasionally screwed up. I wasn’t too impressed, as they were playing rock that has been pounded into the ground for the past decade.

Sand Walk, another MIT band with three guys on instruments and a girl on vocals, followed Our Friend Glenn. They took a bit more subdued rock approach with some interesting music, but I was disappointed with the lead singer’s monotone singing. If she had sung a bit more and put more emotion into it, the performance would have been much stronger.

The saga continued with The Saga Continues, a very funny Chi Phi three-piece who had great crowd interaction. They played Better Than Ezra’s “Good” and tried to get the crowd to sing along, but I think I was the only one who knew all the lyrics. Their final song, “Charlene,” was a simple yet good love song, and they even got the girl in question to come up on stage and proceeded to completely humiliate her. It was awesome.

Following was Sonic Bonnet, an alternative rock quartet with a punch. They had a great stage presence, the singer had a good voice, the guitar had nifty phaser effects, the drumming was solid, and the bassist was completely nuts, thrashing around the stage yet somehow still playing the right notes. Their first and last songs were heavy, rocking numbers, and they even had a “quieter” song with acoustic guitar in between. These guys have some good potential.

Next was Radix, another rock trio which did a decent cover of Stone Temple Pilots’ “Conversations Kill” and a surprising cover of Eminem’s take on Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” with the drummer doing the rapping. Too bad the drummer’s microphone was turned way too low. The guitar playing wasn’t too great, but overall the band was okay.

The ninth band was Obstokl, definitely the hardest band at the competition. The quartet reminded me a bit of Linkin Park and even some 311, and the singer had quite a powerful voice, belting out some amazing screams. They also had some incredibly heavy riffs.

Last was Neon Calm, a rock five-piece that resembled Matchbox 20 and related bands. They had a piano, which could have been interesting but really didn’t add to the guitar-heavy songs. Unfortunately, they won the $1000 gift certificate grand prize. They were definitely not the best band. I was happy with Fluttr coming in second and Sonic Bonnet getting third, but Bucky Spins should’ve been first. Neon Calm did the same basic rock formula and didn’t do anything remarkable. It was a travesty, I tell you.

The Battle of the Bands was nevertheless an excellent event and I hope it happens again. It goes to show what an incredible music scene we have right here on the MIT campus.