Kohoutek Battle of the Bands Showcases Student Musical Talent

In preparation for the 40th Annual Kohoutek Music and Arts Festival, to be held at Pitzer College on April 19 and 20, ten 5C music groups competed in a Battle of the Bands on Friday, March 8. The four winning bands will perform full sets at the Kohoutek Festival alongside bigger name, professional acts.

During the battle, each band played a 15-minute set (three or four songs) to a crowd outside Pitzer’s Grove House. Winners were decided through a “combination of public opinion polls of attendees at the event and the Kohoutek committee,” according to organizer Kellen Wohl PZ ’13.

Playing a festival previously headlined by artists as well-known as Zion I and The Roots is an important opportunity for student bands aspiring to any sort of career in music. For some of the bands, a set at Kohoutek will be their first major show.

“This is our first time we will be on an official stage or anything, so it’s really exciting,” Billy Mills PO ’15 said. Mills is a member of SugarPine, one of the winning bands. “Just the chance to be up there performing in Kohoutek, in the same music festival as a lot of bigger acts, and have a whole lot of people get to see us is really cool.”

Two of the other winners, KCW and Big Body Nation, have previously performed as part of Kohoutek and Reggae Fest, Pitzer’s fall music festival, respectively. KCW is the stage name of Wohl, who is a producer and keyboardist working within the genre of electronic dance music, while Big Body Nation is a multi-school reggae/jazz/hip-hop group. SugarPine is also a multi-school group whose members perform folksy/indie songs that are a combination of covers and original compositions. The fourth winner, Jorf’s Egg, is a punk/garage rock band comprised of students from Pitzer.

Students who attended the show cited the vibe of the event and the diverse genres of music as highlights.

“The bands that I saw all had really unique styles and rocked their own sound. The crowd definitely was into it, and I think that really gave the bands energy,” Gervais Marsh PO ’15 said.

The “battle of the bands” structure meant that there was little continuity between acts. For example, Jorf’s Egg performed directly before SugarPine, which meant that audience members had to switch quickly between upbeat, dance-y music and slower, more harmony-based tunes. The quick changes also worried the performers, though audience response was positive.

“I wasn’t sure how it was going to go over, but the crowd was really into it,” Mills said.

In general, the show was a success. Crowd members danced and engaged with performers throughout the event, which lasted from 8 p.m. until midnight.

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