The atmosphere Uptown started calm on Saturday, April 15, before erupting with excitement as the 2023 Battle of the Bands began.
The event, organized by Miami University’s Guitar Club, ran from 3-10 p.m. and brought Miamians and townies alike together. Battle of the Bands started during the COVID-19 pandemic, having people submit their performances online. The club has been coordinating the battle ever since.
Throughout the event, people lined up for the food trucks, Chicken Cone and Kona Ice. Even in the heat the crowd was chilling on blankets in the grass and standing around the park, listening to music and hanging with friends.
Thirteen groups initially applied, but only 10 could make it on Saturday. For the first time, they were all entirely guitar club-affiliated bands.
Jake Zickerman, a senior mechanical engineering major and president of the guitar club, spoke on the goals of the club.
“It started as a guitar focused organization and has turned into a music appreciation club for people that want to express themselves [and] want to listen to music,” Zickerman said. “We have a simple motto: play, learn, listen.”
The music attracted many crowd-goers who were unaware the event was even happening. Michael Condon, a first-year student at the University of Cincinnati, was walking Uptown with his twin sister Kenzie when they decided to stop and listen.
“Yeah, I heard Red Hot Chili Pepper[s],” Condon said. “So I just came over here.”
The battle began with Dust and Guitars, followed by the band Kings of the Stone Age. The evening finished with Bananarchy and Tachyons.
“We finalized our setlist today, and we chose the last song today,” said Ethan Verderber, a first-year in the duo Fish Wish.
Both Verderber and his partner Bennett Meacham, who performed in last semester’s battle of the bands as well, felt good about their performance.
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For his performance, Zickerman decided to play solo.
“I thought for my last Battle of the Bands, a pretty sensational feeling, that I would play a solo set, jam out for you all,” Zickerman said to the audience.
He covered songs from artists such as Mac Miller and Rainbow Kitten Surprise.
Stoned Ape Theory followed with a high energy performance, playing songs by The Beatles, Sublime and The Rolling Stones. Michael Conley showed off his skills on the electric guitar, but not before warning the crowd.
“I haven’t had any water today, just a couple of Monsters, so if I faint someone’s gonna have to step in here,” Conley said.
Oth was the only band at Battle of the Bands with a fully original set. Member Alex Haberman performed a piece on the keyboard that he composed entirely himself.
Cory O’Brien, a junior games and simulations major and member of guitar club and Bananarchy, notes that Battle of the Bands and Guitar Club are open to having any and all musicians.
“We like having people come no matter what instrument they play,” O’Brien said. “If you want to play live music we can find the space for them.”
Boris (Not Boris) went on after Oth and played a set fully on their guitars with very few vocals. Their passion-filled performance went on for more than 10 minutes and had many people rocking out on the grass.
Onur Tektas, a first-year information and cybersecurity management major, enjoyed the show.
“It's been pretty good; I liked it,” Tektas said. “I like [that] there's a space for these bands to come and present their music to the students. It's covers usually, [but] it's still cool.”
During Bananarchy’s performance, which came after Boris (Not Boris), there was a tuning session in between songs. Instead of empty silence, lead singer Jordan Mtui, a junior double major in creative writing and literature, told the audience banana themed jokes. It was a hit and received many laughs from the audience.
The food-themed band not only had banana themed jokes but senior guitarist Luke Thorne dressed up as a banana for the performance as well.
The band received a standing ovation at the end of their set, getting the crowd even more pumped for the final performance from Tachyon.
“[I feel] very tired; I need to have more water; I’m going to eat this banana. I feel really good,” Mtui said post-performance. “A lot of people are standing up and clapping so it's very bizarre with a lot of that happening. I'm very happy.”
The final band, Tachyon, got the crowd the most pumped. They formed a mosh-like experience in front of the steps and really got the energy flowing after hours in the hot sun.
Singer and guitarist Zickerman pulled Alexander Kauble up onto the stage as a special guest, where they performed songs with the band like “Everybody Talks” by Neon Trees and “Kilby Girl” by The Backseat Lovers.
In the end, Bananarchy, made up of Mtui, O’Brien, Luke Thorne, Jack Weber and Umaansh Parashar, took home the gold.
“I'm absolutely delighted by the people of Miami University for voting us as the best band of Battle of the Bands 2023,” said Parashar, a first-year finance and business analytics major. “I'm super grateful for the Guitar Club of Miami University for organizing this amazing event where people come out and they get to play their hearts out.”
After receiving screams and chants of “encore” they performed “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash to close out the night.