Punk dominates at NIU’s Battle of the Bands


By Andrew Roberts

The second Battle of the Bands had three more bands than it did in October, giving the competition greater variety in genres.

The event, which was Saturday in the Holmes Student Center, featured seven local bands. This year’s Battle of the Bands was so lengthy — six hours long, to be exact — that it had its own emcee, Sam Zangara, junior organizational and corporate communications major.

Here’s a less lengthy recap:

This Inspired

The first band of the night was a local band with a punk sound that had crazy emphasis on the drums. Despite suffering from microphone problems early on, the bass and guitar of this trio mixed well with the drums. I haven’t felt that much enthusiasm for drumsticks since my last visit to KFC.

“I go hard in the paint,” said This Inspired drummer William Rund.

The last four songs of the band’s set had a satisfying punk sound similar to Against Me! and the musicians closed their set well.

This band will play another show April 10 at the House Cafe, 263 E. Lincoln Highway.

Fields of May

I realized as soon as the spectacular singer Victoria Perez took to the microphone that this was the band formally known as Wednesday Don’t Care, which participated in October’s battle.

The band has adopted a funk vibe with smooth bass and excellent guitar solos since taking its new name. Fields of May’s cover of Etta James’ “At Last” was wonderful as the band mixed a funk sound into it. The combination of the sound with Perez’s strong vocals slapped a smile on my face and it wouldn’t fade away.

I, the Martian

Another participant of the last year’s Battle, I, the Martian polished its act and embraced a 50s sci-fi sound that seemed like it was pulled straight from a movie screen.

The bass was so heavy it bordered on a tech problem — I’m pretty sure it blew out a speaker. But, it all came together during the band’s original song “Lounge Lizard,” which showed off the band’s technical strength.

This is a crew that works best when the musicians jam together.

“I have a big metal background in music,” said bassist Tyler Richter. “We’ve been going a little bit darker and kind of a creepy sound, and I’ve been trying to help with making it heavy and fast.”

There was plenty of bass and the darkness loomed in this extraterrestrial alternative rock band.

Charlie Haley

With all the hard rock and punk that seemed to dominate the night, this easy-going alternative rock band provided a smooth change of pace.

The band had an old school sound that was pleasant to listen to, especially with vocals from lead singer Charlie Haley, who played lead guitar.

“It’s just my wheelhouse,” Haley said. “It’s just a feeling of belonging.”

The Smoking Revolvers

Last year’s Battle of the Bands champion, the Smoking Revolvers, reloaded and took another shot at the crown.

The musicians burst onto the stage with a highly entertaining set of heavy rock- and punk-inspired songs. The vocals rang clear in my personal favorite from the set. The Elgin-based band’s original piece, “Cherry Cola,” had just the right amount of garage rock and punk. The whole set was a solid punch of quality music, and the stage presence of this trio was something else.

“I just love playing,” said Andy Evers, Smoking Revolvers bassist and junior marketing major. “I feel great on stage. I feel like myself. That’s where I’m supposed to be.”

The band will release an “EP, possibly album,” titled “Rubicon,” Evers said.

They Never Say No

This post-hardcore band from Chicago had a huge sound and was a huge band as it had six members, including two singers.

Their sound was chaotic and heavy There was a high level of sound that filled the ballroom, but I was most impressed by the level of class the band showed after its set. When the musicians were done, a few audience members were approached by singer Kyle Ritter. He personally thanked them for standing up and cheering the band on. It was a small gesture of gratitude that was very profound.

This was the band’s first show and its level of appreciation for the audience was cool to see.


The final band of the night had a slick sound that had indie rock vibes reminiscent of Wilco. This DeKalb-based band seemed wiser and was well-polished to a musically-pleasing sheen.

“Playing in your apartment bedroom, you don’t really get to blast it,” said Garret Hall, lead guitarist and senior English and psychology major. “You strike a chord with your amp is on, high volume. It’s kind of a visceral thing.”

There was certainly something visceral about the great sound this band exuded, that’s for sure.


After much deliberation, the judges picked the winner based on appearance, showmanship, musical performance and crowd reaction. The big winner of the night was, yet again, The Smoking Revolvers, with They Never Say No in second place and Charlie Haley in third.

For the next Battle, Kim Manno, Holmes Student Center programmer and senior early childhood education major, said she wants to see bands perform an even greater variety of music next year.

“If they make music, I want them to be able to express themselves,” Manno said. “If they’re practicing really hard they should have an opportunity to show what they’ve been working on.”

Last year, Manno said she wanted to make Battle of the Bands bigger. She delivered, so I’m eagerly waiting to see what’s in store for next year’s competition.