This year's battle to the stage on the Sun Devil Fitness Complex Fields is one that has been fought with harmonies, microphones and guitar picks.
On a cold and breezy Wednesday night, Zero Degrees was announced as the winner of ASU's Battle of the Bands and will open for Quinn XCII at Devilpalooza on Feb. 15.
Held in Civic Space Park near the Downtown Phoenix campus, the annual competition featured eight music groups, ranging from alternative rock to rap, and lasted for more than four hours until fans in attendance cast their votes by placing a guitar pick into a ballot box.
The rest of this year's line-up included Natural Culture, Cablebox, Mindwipes, SubContra, Rozotadi, Tracing Faces and Hollywood Slasher.
“It’s been a lifetime dream of mine to play (the) Civic Space Park Battle of the Bands, so thanks for making that dream come true,” said Luke Buneo, the frontman of Hollywood Slasher and a freshman studying digital culture.
Several of the groups played covers of songs by other bands, including The Strokes, Billy Joel, Weezer and more.
Zero Degrees, however, played only original material during their performance.
"There's no covers, there's no remixes, it's really all straight from our creativity and our heart," said Amonta Jones, a sophomore studying sports journalism and founding member of Zero Degrees.
Jones said that the seven-member group, composed of five on-stage performers and two producers, formed last February after they met on ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus.
"We would meet at 10 p.m. and stay up until 2 (a.m.), knowing we have class the next morning, making beats, making songs and all pushing each other," Jones said. "We never knew what was going to happen, but we did feel like we had something going for us."
The group members motivate each other and encourage one another's creativity, but also look up to mainstream artists like Drake, Kanye West and Don Toliver, Jones said.
"If you would have told us that we're opening for Quinn XCII, and at an event like Devilpalooza, we would have been crazy excited," he said. "It just makes us feel like the work we put in was worth it — we're excited."
Michelle Ailport, a sophomore studying journalism, said the event highlights student music at ASU.
"I think it’s really awesome to have everyone come together and listen to the music and really hear student bands playing," Ailport, vice president of services for Undergraduate Student Government Downtown, said during the event. "I’m really excited that someone will get a chance to perform at Devilpalooza and really show off their skills."
Devilpalooza is one of the largest hosted by ASU's Programming and Activities Board during the academic year, often featuring well-known artists, an array of food vendors and more.
Last year's winner, Analog Outlaws, opened for Galantis. Analog Outlaws competed against three other bands, compared to 2020's total of eight bands.
“It’s cool that ASU is doing this and they’re giving musicians an opportunity to perform because a lot of them feel like their music isn't being heard,” said Ivan Muñoz, an attendee and friend of Rozotadi.
Jones said that even though music takes a lot of extra work, he and his group members find it worthwhile.
"I sacrifice a little bit of school for music," Jones said. "I always say there's no way to actually balance, but you just pick and choose what your priorities and what you want in life — life is short, so go for what you want."