On the night of April 2, Jack Magee’s Pub hosted four student musical groups in the annual Battle of the Bands to decide the opener for Bowdoin Spring Concert headliner, rapper IDK. In the contest’s first running after three years, The Irish step dance performing group BEYONCE (Bowdoin Éireann [Ireland] Ye Olde Neo-Celtic Ensemble), and punk/emo outfit Moosecat won first and second place, respectively, both earning an opening spot at the concert.
“It was very cool to see a variety of music at the event … the fact that the two winners were so varied in sound made me happy,” Danny Little ’22, one of the student organizers, said.
The event ran smoothly despite the fact that its organizers had to scramble to put together and advertise the contest. Little said that finding judges was a particularly challenging part of the planning.
“We only really had five days’ notice, and I would say it took a considerable amount of each of those five days to plan it,” Little said.“We probably asked 15 people [to judge], and only two were able to do so because of the time constraint.”
One of the two judges, Senior Lecturer in Music Frank Mauceri, had previously judged the competition in 2018. Mauceri had four major criteria by which he judged each of the bands: the quality of their performance, their stage presence, the amount of original songs the band had in their repertoire and how the audience responded to their set. Mauceri believed BEYONCE performed best in all four categories.
“[BEYONCE] really knew the tunes, and incorporated dancing into their performance,” Mauceri said. “Rather than having a drummer, a lot of the rhythm came from the dancing [of fiddler/dancer Natsumi Meyer ’23], which was really interesting and engaging for the audience.”
The group formed at the beginning of Meyer’s first year when she met Luke Bartol ’23, another fiddler in the group, on her pre-orientation trip.
“Fall semester [of our first year], we met a few times with a different array of people, and then COVID happened and [the group] just kind of dissolved,” Meyer said. BEYONCE returned to playing early this year.
“One of my friends asked me, ‘Please, can you just do something to fill up space for Epicuria?’” Meyer said. “I contacted my friends I played with in addition to some new friends I knew that played Irish music, and we threw it together at the last second.” The group’s entrance in Battle of the Bands also came at the last minute.
“Sydney [Cox ’23], who was one of our group members, knows someone who’s in charge of Battle of the Bands, and two days before she asked ‘You just want to play what we did last time?’”
Despite the impromptu nature of the group’s performance, those who were in attendance said that BEYONCE put on a good show.
“[BEYONCE was] very interesting and engaging for the audience, and they got people out on the floor dancing,” Mauceri said. “The enthusiasm of the players and the way they addressed the audience was really charming and professional.” The band sees opening for IDK as just the beginning of their group’s revamp.
“When we entered the Battle of the Bands, we truly never anticipated winning,” Meyer said. “It was almost like a joke the whole time, like ‘It would be so funny if an Irish step dance band ends up opening for IDK’ … Now that we’re here, we really have to rehearse and prepare and get ready.”