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Battle of the Bands energizes raucous Pub crowd

April 12, 2024

Isa Cruz
MORE COWBELL: Jules Messitte '26—cowbell in hand—crowdsurfs during Glum Plumz' set. Glum Plumz and Far From Juno were the two bands composed entirely of sophomores at the event.

Last Thursday night, eight student bands filled Jack Magee’s Pub to capacity with music across a variety of genres that kept the crowd on its feet and dancing. Bowdoin Music Collective’s (BMC) annual Battle of the Bands brought together the many musical projects of campus. Debuts and goodbyes, violists and vocalists, indie kids and pop punks—the groups all shared mics for the night.

New band Remedy opened the show with Portishead and Norah Jones covers, weaving together bass lines and moments of silence. When guitarist Cole Hillyer ’25 took the mic to cover Peach Pit’s “Tommy’s Party,” a jolt of recognition from the crowd melted away the melancholy twang. Before the show, Hillyer summarized Remedy’s philosophy in his characteristic nonchalance.

“We wanna play music with instruments and sing. We just play random shit,” Hillyer said.

In a departure from Remedy’s velvety sound, Cold Water Crisis brought full-throttle, mic-clutching noise to the stage with leather-jacket bravado that matched their volume and lightning riffs that grabbed the crowd’s attention.

“We like to describe our niche as divorced dad rock,” said bassist Daedalus Arnold ’27.

Their self-deprecating, quirky humor emerged again beneath dizzying percussion during their band introductions, with quips about burnout and hairstyles—Arnold’s and several of his bandmates’ fell to their lower backs—an antic met with laughter.

Zaffre, a seven-piece outfit with a subtler but emotionally decadent sound, spotlighted vocals that reached the ceiling and saxophone that brought friends into each other’s swaying arms. The diffuse blue light cast upon them by the Pub lights gave a visual representation of the soft tenor of their music.

Reflecting on the night, BMC’s Tyler Deane ’25 said that strong crowd engagement was a heartening development that he hopes will continue in future years.

“At a certain point, the Pub was at capacity so they were doing ‘one in, one out’ at the door, so good turnout,” Deane said. “In my first year, there were only four bands playing.”

Tables typically only filled at Thursday night Pub Trivia were overtaken last week by engaged listeners. The energy in the room was dynamic, matching the varied presences in the night’s lineup.

Isa Cruz
BANDING TOGETHER: Members of Remedy were the first to take the stage at Battle of the Bands.

After Zaffre, campus musical staple Night Hawk performed, following up their recent EP release with a set composed of all original songs—and premiering one new track. An East Coast tour is in the works for the group this summer, making Battle of the Bands a sentimental pit stop on the interstate road trip of their musicianship at Bowdoin.

“This feels like a good note to leave on,” said guitarist Alex Kozic ’24.

Night Hawk’s dynamic duo of Peyton Semjen ’24 and Colter Adams ’24 brought their typical vibrance to the stage, which Kozic topped off by jumping onto a speaker, making good on their pre-show promises declared in the “green room” of the Pub’s dish return area.

“Become part of the crowd. That’s the plan,” Adams said.

Another newer fixture of the campus music scene, Far From Juno served up pop rock ballads with lead singer Ainsley Morrison ’26 embodying a woman scorned in Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats,” pink cowboy hat and all. An all-sophomore band, this year was their first Battle of the Bands, and guitarist Reynaldo Fuentez ’26 said that despite some nerves, they were excited to perform.

Another all-sophomore group, Glum Plumz, brought a chaotic set with its members clad in funky pairings including crochet tops, jorts and racecar jerseys. Audience members did not know what to expect at first, but were treated to a riotous time.

“We occupy the shitty-at-playing-our-instruments niche; you know, not every band can pull that off,” joked drummer Luke Robinson ’26.

Soundtracked by “Kung Fu Fighting,” a mosh pit featuring swing dancing converged to support Jules Messitte ’26 playing cowbell and crowd surfing before returning to the saxophone.

Part-Time Groove Society, better known by the chants of “PGS!” that accompanied their stage presence, kept the mics buzzing and dazzled with danceable soul covers. While guitarist Ben Carroll ’27 cited their three-member horn section as their competitive edge, trumpet player Matthew Stein ’27 foreshadowed the group’s goofiness they embraced onstage with his deadpan introduction.

“We have the shortest shorts, tallest socks and biggest boots,” he said.

Closing out the night was Solitto. With violist Brendan Hill ’25 taking the space where one might expect a lead singer, a melodic exchange unfolded between guitarist Jacob Goodman ’26, also of Far From Juno—here, singing as well—and the mellow, full-bodied strings brought the night to a close.

Looking on from the balcony, hidden amid sporadic bursts of machine-generated bubbles, were the three judges: Academic Coordinator for Music Jason Holmes, Head Coach of Track and Field LJ Que and Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry Sean Lutz. After intense deliberation, three outfits took a bit of the spotlight home: Night Hawk in third place, Far From Juno taking second, and in first place, PGS. It was announced that the latter two bands would open for NLE Choppa and Sean Kingston at tonight’s spring concert. As of yesterday, only PGS will open in tonight’s concert due to logistics constraints.

Looking forward, Deane sees a more prominent role for student bands on campus.

“Hopefully we’ll be seeing more shows this spring and then next year; a lot of the bands are first year, sophomore bands. We’ve been kind of in a dead zone,” Deane said. “So hopefully that gets going.”

Katie Draeger ’24 felt more retrospective; this being her senior year, she savored her last Battle of the Bands as an emblem of artistic life at Bowdoin.

“I am very moved to be in a space that is so purely artistic at Bowdoin. I feel like I crave that all the time. I have a radio show and I feel like I try to spend as much time in the studio as possible because I feel like those spaces are very sacred and almost feel limited in my experience,” Draeger said.

Luke Robinson ’26 and Peyton Semjen ’24 are members of the Bowdoin Orient. 


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One comment:

  1. Caleb says:

    Yo, I’m really happy for PGS, but Glum Plumz had one of the best sets of all time! One of the best sets of all time!

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