Battle: May the best band win

The crowd stomped its feet to the downbeat of junior Brendan Conlin’s drumming exhibition. Fans stomped their chairs in approval, one fan shaking his chair in the air in demand of an encore from the group Render, the show’s last act.

“Render us another,” the fan yelled.

The band complied, covering Seven Mary Three’s hit “Cumbersome” to cap off the first annual Battle of the Bands, hosted by Temple University’s Performing Arts Club in the Owl Cove of Mitten Hall on Thursday, Dec. 1.

The other quartets, Conscious and Willpowerless, waited for the distortion of the last struck chord to cease. From there, the decision of who was to be crowned victor was determined by the applause of the crowd – or at least what was left of it.

Although an estimated attendance of 85 people paid the $3 entrance fee, many fans, especially those for the second act Willpowerless left before rocking their vote.

Band competitions like this often seem more like popularity contests since only a small group of friends is needed to sway the decision.

It took announcer Pat House, a public relations junior, two tries to decide the most dedicated – or loudest – fans between Willpowerless and Render. Thanks partly to some crazed fans’ well-plotted spinning antics, Render took the contest and a $175 gift certificate from T.U.P.A.C sponsor, Sam Ash, a musical equipment company. Fans of the opening band, Conscious, either left early or suddenly came down with laryngitis.

Conscious, led by Temple senior David Corbett, kicked off the night with the catchy tune “Today Is the Day.” In the song Corbett showcases his poignant song writing ability with double-meaning lyrics like “Nothing sacred, save your soul.”

Despite playing an original edgy-rock 20-minute set, Conscious had trouble moving the listless crowd from their seats. Besides the occasional sauntering of Corbett, the band appeared as stiff as the audience, which seemed to prefer a harder sound.

Except for drummer Matt Vogel, every member of Conscious is a Temple student, including sophomore guitarist Chris Bednar, a nursing major, and bassist Chris Parenti, a sophomore art major.

Willpowerless swaggered to the stage with its following already assembled in the crowd. A sign etched with the band’s name served as a backdrop for the show.

Then they tore the house down.

Willpowerless jump-started the crowd with “An Everytime Eye,” led by guitarist Craig Steel who manipulated heavy synthesizers to produce a sound similar to a light saber duel.

Frontman Ryan Panfil then performed his flamboyant theatrics, bucking his body like Fred Durst and exhibiting a voice akin to Brandon Boyd, frontman of Incubus. Most of their breakneck transitions, in the style of System of a Down, were powered by afro-touting Jacob Castro’s unmerciful assault on the drums.

Panfil, his brother, and lone Temple representative, sophomore Jordan Panfil, worked the crowd, with the former jumping off the stage.

Conlin, a Spanish major, disrobed during the group’s five-song set. By the show’s end he had tripped to nothing more than quasi-boxers.

During “Someday Go Away,” both Conlin and bassist Blake Foster tried to rescue a cymbal from falling to the ground. To its credit, the group remained poised and continued jamming.

Early on, Conscious performed a rocking rendition of Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy.” The crowd enjoyed the rap song turned rock, but many preferred the night’s original material.

“If you’re going to come to a show like this, you’re not going to want to hear something that’s already on the radio,” said sophomore, Lauren Hard, a journalism major. You can hear that anytime.”

Steve Wood can be reached at jacksonb@temple.edu.

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