Local artists to compete at Battle of the Bands this Thursday

By Tommy Verdone

The University of Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition (CRC) is hosting its annual Battle of the Bands competition Thursday night at the Student Union Ballroom. The event is free and open to UMass students as well the general public from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., when some of the hottest local bands in the Pioneer Valley will duke it out.

Justin Surgent/Collegian File Photo

The Battle of the Bands is an annual event put on by the CRC in order to promote its larger sponsored event, “Extravaganja.” This year will be the festival’s 22-year anniversary.

The winner of this Battle of the Bands will earn the right to open the show at “Extravaganja,” which has become a widely known annual event within the Pioneer Valley and will be held on Saturday, April 20 this year. Each year, Amherst Center is flooded with both locals and commuters, so any band that plays will likely get, at the very least, some well-deserved local recognition.

There will be nine bands performing in the Student Union Ballroom for this opportunity. The list consists of “Red Panda,” “Mooseknuckle,” “The Happiness Machines,” “Railyard Conspiracy,” “Secret Jam Society,” “Who’da Funk it?,” “Mass Air Flow,” “Barely Brothers” and “Outer Stylie.” These local acts are expected to draw an audience from the surrounding area and from their respective fandoms.

This year, there will be a wide range of genres, as is to be expected of a proper battle of the bands. From the funky soulful and almost Jack White-esq “Who’da Funk it?” to the dynamic indie-math rock prowess of “Red Panda,” it is sure to be a diverse show. The band “Mass Air Flow” will bring about a dreamy, yet rocky self-proclaimed ‘astronaut folk’ sound to the stage, while “Railyard Conspiracy” will carry on with a traditional, yet extremely fresh and absurdly bluesy aura.

The group “Barely Brothers” mixes The Grateful Dead’s Zen philosophies with Phish’s stadium dance party sensibilities and a modern jam band sound. “Secret Jam Society” has a unique large sounding blues folk sound with vocals almost reminiscent of “The Smith’s” Morrissey, according to their reverbnation.com web page.

Alec Slechuk, the public relations officer of the CRC, describes “The Happiness Machines” as “a blues rock band with some psychedelic stuff thrown in” and “Mooseknuckle” as “a rock band with a 70s sound.” “Outer Stylie” is a hard rock band with heavy dynamic psychedelic influences.

All of the battling bands are home grown in the local community. With such diversity, this should prove to be an enthralling and unpredictable show.
The UMass CRC is the oldest student-run drug reform club in the United States and is based in Room 322 in the Student Union.


Thomas Verdone can be reached at [email protected]