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Tempe Battle of the Bands leaves students bewildered

ASU's annual Battle of the Bands semifinal in Tempe left students and performers hoping for more

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"We kind of had to look at Battle of the Bands as less of a competition, but more something that we would want to remember after it happened."

Every year the Programming and Activities Board announces the Battle of the Bands, the biggest musical event on campus for students and aspiring musicians. This year, however, the Tempe semifinal wasn't quite the spectacle students were expecting. 

Battle of the Bands is an event advertised by PAB as a concert-style event where bands on campus are able to show off their music. The anticipation for the event was built even further by the various stages attendees had to work through to reach the event, held at the Student Pavilion on the Tempe campus last Wednesday.

First, the bag check. Next, get checked in with the organizers. This is assuming, of course, that attendees had an RSVP, which was available only through the official PAB Instagram page's post about the event. Finally, go and retrieve your Battle of the Bands wristband from an entirely different organizer.

At this point, attendees have yet to enter the concert area. When they do, they are met with a surprising sight: chairs.

David Zamora, a sophomore studying architecture, left after only three performances. 

"My friends and I were expecting everyone to be standing and dancing," Zamora said. "Instead, everyone was in chairs."

That perspective was repeated by Zamora's friends. They were expecting a concert, and instead, they were given a room full of students on their phones, waiting for something to happen.

PAB organizers did come out to hype the crowd up a few times, directing students to the provided Pepsi products and filming a TikTok that was later posted to PAB's account after a few attempts to engage the crowd were less than successful.

With every performance, students left. Some even ventured on stage to participate in karaoke for entertainment while waiting for the next band to start its two-song set. 

For the bands performing, the event was difficult for other reasons.

"Typically we play shows that are 30 to 45-minute sets and we like to have a very engaging show for the audience," said Wills Brinton, guitarist for Practically People and a junior at ASU studying business communication. "How do we do that with two songs?"

"We kind of had to look at Battle of the Bands as less of a competition, but more something that we would want to remember after it happened," said Southbend Drive's guitarist and vocalist Oscar Frias Martinez, a sophomore majoring in supply chain management and finance.

Advertising for the event was limited as well. Brinton said Practically People's members weren't made aware of the event through any actual advertisements. Brinton's friend, a community assistant on campus, let him know the date for Battle of the Bands applicants had been extended, so the band was still able to apply.

Regardless of the event's organization, Battle of the Bands was still a major opportunity for the competitors. The winner, 3IDragon, will be competing at the Battle of the Bands Finale against the winning band from the other campuses on Feb. 17 for a chance to open at Devilpalooza on March 25.

"It was a really fun night and probably one of our favorite shows that we've had," Brinton said. "It felt like we won the night just the way everyone reacted to us."

The remaining bands largely felt the experience was worth it despite the difficulties.

"We got to meet a lot of bands," said The Jujus guitarist and vocalist, Julian Tesman, a sophomore studying supply chain management. "That was probably the most fun part about it, just getting to hang out and meet other musicians in the Tempe area."

Edited by Claire van Doren, Reagan Priest, Piper Hansen and Luke Chatham.

Reach the reporter at and follow @gmccome1 on Twitter.

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Gillian McComeskeyPolitics Reporter

Gillian Mccomeskey is a reporter on the Politics Desk. She has been reporting and producing news articles for 4 years. She has been published by 5 news stations.

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