And you thought all the action was on the football field. This weekend’s Harvard-Yale face-off will feature more than just the brawn of these two academic heavyweights that don’t give athletic scholarships. The musically inclined students of each institution will also get their chance to shine. The second annual Harvard-Yale Battle of the Bands will take place in the Off-Broadway Performance Space this Friday at 7:30 p.m. Three Harvard bands duke it out with three from Yale in what promises to be an exciting competition.
Cantab rockers took the top prize at last year’s inaugural Battle in Cambridge. The three selected Yale bands, who were picked by Yale College Council and Turn It Up organizers from among 14 demo tape submissions, hope to emerge victorious, continuing some semblance of Yale dominance in this year’s contest.
Representing Yale’s music scene this year will be Skin the Goat, Milo and Seneca. Traveling from Boston are Second Act, Subject to Change, and Invisible Downtown. Seneca will be making its first campus appearance, whereas Milo and Skin the Goat have headlined several previous Turn It Up shows and enjoy broad awareness in the Yale community. Although none of this year’s acts from Yale feature freshman, the alternate group, Adams of Blue, is a freshman ensemble.
Among the bands who submitted tapes for consideration for entrance to the show, many were talented freshmen musicians. This gives one of the Battle’s organizers, Mary Bennett ’02, high hopes for the future of the Yale music community.
The styles presented by the entertainers at this show span from folk to punk to funk for the most part. The Harvard groups tend mostly toward an acoustic, softer sound, while Skin the Goat’s repertoire includes a hardcore cover of a Prodigy song. Milo, a feel-good energetic jam band, is a popular favorite at Yale parties. Seneca describe themselves as more prone to emotional rock, and their track “The Ballad of Barbara Bush” certainly proves them capable of deeply felt romanticism.
The lineup, starting with Second Act and finishing with Milo, will feature 20-minute sets from each group. The bands have been urged to stay within the four song limit and to stress originality, as anyone who has sat through a full-length Battle of the Bands knows, it can border on tedious when calls for “Freebird” come from the crowd.
The four judges (two from Yale and two from Harvard) will follow a specific system, although official rules are still subject to revision, and will concentrate on originality, interaction with the crowd, and creativity. While they won’t be employing a clap-o-meter, audience reaction will factor in, potentially tipping the scales for the Yale bands.
Organizers learned lessons from last year’s introductory Battle program. The Game 2000 was a chilly weekend in Cambridge, and the event took place outside to a paltry crowd. It also took place after the football game had ended, which Bennett also credits for the poor turnout. She hopes that holding the Battle indoors the Friday before The Game will encourage more people to attend.
“This is a really great chance for Yalies to come together and support the music community here,” she said.
The Battle will not only provide increased visibility for the participating musicians but also a forum and opportunity for musicians in the Northeast university communities to learn about and support each other. While we may be chanting to rip their heads off on the football field, at the band showcase a good guitarist is a good guitarist, and a sweet riff can be appreciated by anyone, regardless of their mascot.