MUTV, KCOU co-host annual Battle of the Bands, crown unexpected winner

Trent Grierson, bassist for the winning act, said he and his bandmates were “just in it for the fun.”

On Monday, Oct. 26, four freshmen residing in McDavid Hall formed a band called the Birdwatchers and signed up for the Battle of the Bands competition. On Friday, Nov. 6, they won the event.

“We probably had about four or five practices since our formation, so that’s why the victory came as such a shock,” freshman and Birdwatchers bassist Trent Grierson said.

MUTV and KCOU began the Battle of the Bands tradition four years ago in an effort to create a collaboration between the two organizations.

“Every year (the event) is a little bit different, but the goal is always to raise awareness about our media outlets, and to get people in here, off the streets, having a great weekend and listening to live music; to get to know us and them, and to support a bunch of local artists,” KCOU Promotions Director Max Mitchem said.

Students packed The Shack at 6:30 p.m. Friday night to see five local artists perform. The audience voted for their favorites via Twitter, and the winning artist was determined by which performer received the most “likes” on its Battle of the Bands tweet within 10 minutes after the show’s end. The prize was a recording contract with KCOU.

Freshman Lauren Pike enjoyed the atmosphere of the venue.

“There were a lot a people there and they all seemed pretty excited,” she said. “Everyone was just there to listen to music. It was pretty cool that so many people came out for that.”

The Birdwatchers kicked off the night with a punk-rock set that included a cover of the Beatles’ “Back in the USSR” and an original song called “MKT” that they had written the day before. The group’s dynamic stage presence and allusion to the MKT trail, a much-loved Columbia location, won the audience over.

The second-place band, Pseudo Skylight, hails from the St. Louis suburb St. Charles. Besides playing two original songs, they surprised the crowd by turning the Jason DeRulo hit “Trumpets” into a fast-paced pop-punk cover.

Marty Aubuchon, Pseudo Skylight’s drummer, said The Shack was a fun venue to play in, more so than the community college setting he is used to in St. Charles.

“I liked the ambience of the lighting,” he said. “It’s a really chill place.”

Two female solo artists, equipped with soft voices and acoustic guitars, added variety to the lineup and juxtaposed the array of male rock-and-rollers. The first, sophomore Savannah Austin, admitted to the audience that it was her first live show and that she was nervous. She laughed off her nerves and played covers of Simon and Garfunkel, Hozier, and Edith Piaf.

Pike said she couldn’t tell that Austin was so new to performing in front of an audience.

“I thought she did a good job,” Pike said. “She had a really good voice.”

The other solo artist, freshman Chloe Reindl, adopted the stage name Chlobird and opened her set with a mashup of “Womanizer” by Britney Spears and “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson. She followed up with an original song called “Shake Me” and finished with a cover of the raunchy Ginuwine hit “Pony.”

“I’ve done open mic nights, but this is the biggest crowd I’ve sung in front of,” she said.

The rush of adrenaline Reindl felt when she first took the stage made her want to sprint off, but she said she began to relax once she started playing and singing.

“Once I got into my songs and connected with the audience, I felt a lot better,” she said.

Goodbye Gravity, the event’s final performance, presented highly original lyrics, such as a narrative tune about the negative effects of technology on a first date. The band had the most performing experience of all the contestants. Formed and based in Kansas City, it has released an EP called Train Tracks and is working on its first full-length album.

Such experience is a large part of why the Birdwatchers never expected to win.

“There were bands that have been touring, that have been going to other concert venues around the state,” Grierson said. “(Our band) literally just formed.”

He and his bandmates had thought their music was interesting, but had not seen it as enough so to win the competition.

“We were just in it for the fun,” Grierson said.

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