Student Entertainment Events and campus radio station WMUC are hosting a contest between student-run bands to find this year’s Art Attack opener.
During today’s final round of Battle of the Bands the three finalists, The Hip-Hop Orchestra, HYERLearnin and The Orthobox, will perform for a panel of SEE and WMUC judges. Lead singer Matt Gomez of the band Sons Of The Radio, will pose as a special guest judge.
After his former drum teacher played during Art Attack in 2012, sophomore physics major Kevin Lehr knew he wanted to perform for the same audience.
Lehr is one of the three members of Talk Radio, an indie, alternative and “college” rock band.
The band’s name stems from its roots: Lehr met singer/bassist/guitarist Mike Houser at WMUC.
“We were trying to come up with a name that I thought was kind of catchy and easy to remember,” Lehr said. “We felt like we should have a radio vibe; just something regarding the radio because we’d met at WMUC.”
They started as Public Access, then became Public Radio and finally evolved to Talk Radio which stuck, Lehr said.
Talk Radio practices at least once a week and plays gigs almost every weekend, said guitarist and singer Devin Ganey. Radio performs at several campus functions and venues in the area, such as the Velvet Lounge in Washington, D.C.
“People are pretty receptive, which is nice,” sophomore computer science major Ganey said. “Some people dance to the quicker songs and we just get a pretty positive reaction from everyone.”
Although none of the band members major in music, Ganey said they hope Talk Radio perseveres throughout the remainder of the competition.
“[Opening at Art Attack] would be the most possible exposure on campus,” Ganey said. “It would be awesome to play for that many students and established artists and learn what we could from them.”
Art Attack would also offer a professional platform for performance, Lehr said.
“Obviously, being college students you don’t get a chance to play in front of such a huge crowd,” Lehr said. “It’s really cool to think we can get our music out there to almost the entire campus at once and open for artists who are nationally recognized.”
Talk Radio is no longer in the competition for Battle of the Bands.
The Hip-Hop Orchestra
It started as a vision for Marcus Moody: a group that incorporates hip-hop sound with the classical.
This vision evolved from three or four students to a group of more than 20 musicians, said senior animal science major Johnny Weiss. The Hip-Hop Orchestra now includes instrumentalists on various instruments including the drums, strings, horns, keyboards and guitars.
“We’re evolving more into a student group than a traditional band,” Weiss said.
The group recently began collaborating with a group of rappers from Towson, but still performs with David “Paper Boy” Porter, Weiss said.
“We like the name Hip-Hop Orchestra because it’s very descriptive,” Weiss said. “It opens up a conversation to tell people what we are and what we’re about.”
The Hip-Hop Orchestra performs mostly original pieces that are hard to categorize, Weiss said. They are hip-hop-style songs with a lot of string instruments and horns.
Moody writes all of the group’s music, including a mashup of Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar pieces, Weiss said.
“The easiest way to describe our sound is hip-hop with classical elements,” Weiss said.
Performing at Art Attack would be Hip-Hop Orchestra’s big break, Weiss said. While the group has performed many smaller venues around campus and received a lot of positive feedback, they still remain not very well known
“That would be a great thing to happen,” Weiss said. “People would come out to more auditions and we’d be able to address more talents.”
This year’s lineup for Art Attack includes Jessie J, The Chainsmokers and Logic, an array of sounds giving Art Attack XXXII more of a festival vibe rather than a typical concert, Weiss said.
“The Art Attack lineup is really great in the sense that they’re trying to incorporate different genres in one night,” Weiss said. “I think we’d really be able to complement that with our sound. I’ve never heard a group that sounds like we do, so I think we’d be a great complement to the performers they have lined up.”
Performing a verse with D-Cal at Art Attack XXXII wasn’t enough for junior government and politics major Opeyemi “O-Slice” Owoeye.
HYERLearnin, a network of individual artists, stands for “Heights You’ll Eventually Reach.”
The group formed when O-Slice was in high school. O-Slice said she wanted to create a network of individuals who could depend on each other, whether it be for pictures, video or singing.
“I wanted to get a group of people together who could help one another,” O-Slice said. “I want to capitalize on talent and people who can depend on each other. So I reached out to people to connect them and start a family.”
When it was established in 2011, HYERLearnin had five members, but has since prospered into to more than 10.
O-Slice described her craft as “truth plus rhythm plus fun.”
“I’m a girl who can actually spit,” O-Slice said. “A lot of people don’t expect females to be able to have subject matter and talent and still be catchy and hold people’s attention, but I keep people engaged and interested.”
Even with more than 30 on-campus performances under her belt, O-Slice said performing at Art Attack would be one of the most interesting opportunities she’s had while at the university.
Performing at Art Attack would bring her one step closer to her dream, she said, and would help fulfill the purpose of HYERLearnin.
HYERLearnin is about the idea that if you keep going, working hard and pushing, you will reach your dream, O-Slice said.
“Performing my set in front of 10,000 people would be such an honor if I was selected,” O-Slice said. “I would put on an amazing show and be so thankful for the opportunity.”
As a band comprised of varying music tastes, Bare Left prides itself on its “eclectic and psychedelic” sound.
The instrumentation of the band lends insight to the nature of their sound: a guitar, bass, drums, keyboard and flute. The overlay of textures creates a unique tone, said singer and flutist Kai Keefe.
Interestingly, Keefe, a junior broadcast journalism major, said, everyone in the band has very dissimilar tastes in music, which is both a blessing and a curse. While the many influences give the band a unique sound, it’s occasionally difficult to arrive to a consensus when making musical decisions, Keefe said.
“We have a sound that a lot of people haven’t heard before,” Keefe said. “Whether or not they like it, a lot of people are pleasantly surprised to hear something different.”
Keefe works at WMUC as one of the recording engineers. WMUC brings in live bands pretty regularly, Keefe said, to put on shows in the studio, which has allowed Bare Left the opportunity of performing at the station.
Bare Left was not the band’s original name; they were initially called Blue Beard. “We went for something more abstract and meaningless,” Keefe said. “There are not too many things under [Bare Left].”
Like the other groups, Bare Left agrees playing at Art Attack would give them exposure to the campus community that not many other venues will.
“It would be a cool opportunity,” Keefe said. “It’s always nice to open for a larger mainstream act, even if it’s not someone you personally admire.”
Bare Left did not advance to the final round of Battle of the Bands.
The winner will be chosen after the three semi-finalists – HYERLearnin, The Hip-Hop Orchestra and The Orthobox – perform again for a panel of judges. In the event of a tie, audience members will be asked to vote for the winner.
The final round commences at 7 p.m. in Stamp’s Baltimore Room.
Maya Pottiger is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at email@example.com.