Battle of the Bands round one brings musicians and community together

By Sahana Jayaraman

As the lights dimmed in Stamp’s Baltimore Room, Wendy Streight stretched her hands out in front of her. They were shaking.

She was nervous, she explained, for her son’s performance. Devin Streight is a Maryland student, a College Park scholar, and the guitarist for FUSE, the first band to perform in round one of the Battle of the Bands on March 5, hosted by Student Entertainment Events.

“I’m feeling really good [about tonight],” Wendy Streight said. “I think [FUSE is] really good.”

FUSE was one of six bands lined up for Tuesday’s event. The group’s classical rock set kicked off a musically-diverse night, during which audience members listened to genres like neo-soul and psychedelic rock.

By the time the event’s second band finished performing, onlookers had almost filled the room’s available seats.

Freshman environmental science major Andrea Shirdon came early and snagged a seat when before the event formally began.

“[I’m] coming in open-minded. Hopefully, I like some sound or [get to] support a local musician,” Shirdon said.

Audience members whistled and cheered as the night’s third — and largest — group took the stage. R&B group 10issues had a 10-person ensemble, including a saxophonist and a trumpet player.  

The group’s rousing 15-minute set ended with their rendition of popular hip-hop tune, “Crew.”

More than 15 minutes later, senior broadcast journalism major and 10issues rapper Alex Asifo said he still felt the adrenaline rush of performing.

“My mind is still racing a little bit,” Asifo said. “I think we were having so much fun up there that we probably could’ve gone for another hour…[I’m] just feeling good right now. Lots of friends and family came out to support.”

Though the competition took place on campus,  Maryland students weren’t the only ones participating. Max Stratyner and Aspen Furlow Bass, two members of the psychedelic rock and funk group Day of Leisure,are seniors in high school.

“Spencer Tritto, our drummer, told us about [Battle of the Bands] and got us interested in it,” Bass said.

Day of Leisure’s set included two original singles, one of which was composed by Stratyner.

When the strains of final act RMS’ self-produced hip-hop beat faded out at 9:15, the audience was mostly comprised of anxious band members.

Low chatter buzzed in the background as the judges huddled together, comparing scorecards and deciding which three groups would move onto the competition’s second round.

The whole room seemed to hold its breath when Jay Raje, musical arts director for SEE and Battle of the Bands judge, stood up and took the mic.

Cheers erupt as he announces the names of the bands performing March 12: Day of Leisure, RMS, and 10issues.

“I just hope everybody had a good time, that’s just the biggest key,” Asifo said. “Come next week!”

The second round of Battle of the Bands will be held in Stamp’s Baltimore room at 7 p.m. March 12. Read more about it here.

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