Battle of the Bands Final: The Winner Is...

27/03/2024

Ruby Thorpe (she/they) attends an electric night at The Fulford Arms for the final of BOTB 2024

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Image by Luke Snell

By Ruby Thorpe

After three rounds of heats and a semi-final, 33 bands turned into four for the final of BandSoc’s Battle of the Bands on March 21. Despite not attending any of the heats or the semi-final, the final exceeded all of my expectations with a jam-packed line up of extremely talented musicians. Here are my thoughts on all four acts, as well as the results of this close competition.

Tom Sheldon

As the opening act for the final, Sheldon had the responsibility of warming up the crowd, and he certainly delivered. His cover of ‘War Pigs’ by Black Sabbath opened the show brilliantly and the crowd responded with high energy; and this excitement did not subside. Throughout his set, he made an excellent connection with the audience by jumping into the pit, taking drinks and making jokes; you would think he had been performing for years. The pacing of the set and its variation was perfect with both electric guitar solos and a slower love song called ‘Stop By’, allowing us all to relate to the new feeling of having a crush. The talent of the whole band was showcased throughout his set with an astounding drum solo, catchy bass lines and Sheldon’s incredible guitar skills. This was an exceptional way to begin the night, and really set the room on fire.

Trent and the Crickets

As the wildcard act brought back straight from Heat One, Trent and the Crickets did not disappoint for their return to BandSoc’s Battle of the Bands. They immediately launched into a lively punk rock set with the opening line of “come closer let me tell you a story, it’s bound to be gory”, we knew we were in for a treat. Trent on lead guitar was astounding, despite having an issue with the tremolo bar, he delivered Nirvana-like guitar licks and jaw-dropping solos that really outlined the whole set. One song that really stuck out to me was ‘Pontefract’ which had a driving bassline and lyrics about messy nights which are recognisable for many. Their closing song ‘Runner’ was a perfect way to end the set with a catchy hook and fast tempo, bringing everyone together in crouching down to the floor before bouncing back up as the beat dropped.

JW Blake and the Renegades of Funk

Despite the drummer having dislocated his shoulder and having his arm in a sling, JW Blake and the Renegades of Funk truly delivered their opening promise of ‘No Chilling’ with a jazzy, upbeat style. The saxophone immediately sucked me in as it complemented the rest of the band so well, each bringing something different to the table. I really enjoyed the experimentation throughout the set with fast dynamic and tempo changes, guitar effects and call and response between Blake and his band. These twists and turns did not end as there were so many key moments, like a rhyme battle for a ‘No Chilling’ sticker; a variation on Axel F’s ‘Crazy Frog’ (much better than the original in my opinion); and the whirlwind of the closing mashup of ‘We Are Number One’ and Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’ which was unexpectedly brilliant. The Renegades of Funk truly brought a more comedic tone to the evening, which allowed for an utterly enjoyable half an hour of playful joy.

Suspicious Liquid

The audience’s attention was immediately captured at the beginning of their set with Vanessa inviting a crowd member on stage to drink the “suspicious liquid” and “tie souls” with her. They then launched into a song called ‘Fish Like Things’ based on the horror novella The Shadow of Innsmouth by H. P. Lovecraft, set in an abandoned fishing town. Similar references to literature, history and the supernatural as well as narrative storylines were also seen with their song played during the semi-final ‘Socrates’ and ‘Horoscope Holly’. Just like everyone else on the bill, the band was insanely talented, with heavy drum breaks, a large vocal range and catchy basslines and guitar riffs. However, it was crowd engagement that really put Suspicious Liquid above the rest with mosh pits, chants between songs and homemade signs. The collective shout of “DEATH” during ‘Horoscope Holly’ could be heard as if the crowd had heard the song hundreds of times before, clearly establishing Suspicious Liquid as a crowd favourite.

After all the acts, we all waited in anticipation as the judges counted up their scores. We also found out that only the runners up and the winner was going to be announced, leaving us in the dark of the other two results. Following the judges deliberation, a very difficult task due to the immense talent showcased, the runners up were announced as Trent and the Crickets and the winners, Suspicious Liquid. With cheers all round, we could tell that the largest Battle of the Bands to date was a tremendous success. With a massive number of entrants and tickets selling out within minutes, we send a massive congratulations to Suspicious Liquid for their exceptional performance as well as BandSoc for organising this amazing event. Additionally, we would like to thank the Fulford Arms for hosting yet another thrilling Battle of the Bands. We cannot wait to see next year’s talents!