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Student musicians jam at Battle of the Bands fundraiser

March 19, 2008|By Chris Wiebe

The walls of Burbank High School’s auditorium throbbed with adolescent angst, borne on the backs of crunchy drum beats and distorted power chords, during the annual Battle of the Bands on Wednesday.

Eight bands — The Royal Fetuses, Double Speak, Lucky XIII, Amherst, Those Guys, Fall of April, The Casual Maniacs and The Eloquence — competed on stage before hundreds of their peers for a $150 top prize on a night that also served as a fundraiser for the senior class.

The event usually attracts heavy rock acts with leanings toward screamo, said Burbank High senior and spirit commissioner Konrad Hermann, 18, and this year was no different.


The clang of a gong backstage ushered in opening act, The Royal Fetuses, who tore into their first number, “In the Dark,” with the driving and frenzied electric guitar of senior James Thomer, 17. Bass player Drew Harris, 18, a Burbank High graduate, crooned out a swooping vocal line, with a phrasing that paid a likely unintentional homage to Spinal Tap frontman David St. Hubbins.

As the song pushed past the second chorus, Thomer pinched high on the upper frets into a busy guitar solo that earned him hoots and hollers from the crowd.

Their second number seemed to cry Jimi Hendrix, loosely inverting the classic riff from “Foxy Lady,” but heaping praise on a different muse they called “Senorita.”

When the second act, Double Speak, took the stage, a moody, maudlin guitar line set a textured backdrop for singer Bronwyn Bent, whose alto voice flirted through tight melodies and delicate trills.

Though the venue was competition, members of the band Amherst, named after the street in Burbank, said they were more about having a good time.

“We just want to have fun, put on a show and get more fans,” guitarist Brian Behamta, 17, said.

And playing in front of an audience gave the bands the chance to showcase the meanings of their original songs, which center on relationships and human experience, said Serafin Canizares, 18, a Burbank high school graduate who is a vocalist, guitarist and keyboard player for The Eloquence.

“It’s more of, like, an expression for us,” he said. “We don’t write about anything other than stuff we’ve been through.”

Canizares’ band took second place in Battle of the Bands last year, under a different name, Etc.

Proceeds from the event, which also raffled off prizes, will go toward the senior prom this year, said senior advisor Rebecca Cooper.

“In years past they’ve raised $2,000 to $3,000,” she said.

The prom is scheduled for April.

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