Battle of the Bands

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BY GENEVA NODLAND geneva.nodland@mnstate.edu

As part of MSUM’s Dragon Frost festivities, the Dragon Entertainment group hosted Battle of the Bands Saturday, Feb. 8. The evening was filled with competition, music lovers and a little bit of rock n’ roll.

The Dragon Entertainment Group worked on the event with transfer student Alex Guimont as the event coordinator. This is Guimont’s first year at MSUM. He has an associate degree in music from his previous college and is pursuing the Entertainment Industries and Technology (EIT) degree. 

Although Guimont said MSUM hasn’t had an event like this in years, his old school did, so he was very excited to be taking on this project.

Among the bands performing were Gradience, Understudy and Siltstøne. Bands performing had to include at least one member who is a student at MSUM, and they were required to play all of their music live.   

The audience engaging at the Battle of the Bands. Photos provided by Tylar Frame. tylar.frame@go.mnstate.edu

First, second and third place included cash prizes, as well as some recognition. 

“A lot of younger bands aren’t really playing too much, or making money, and it’s a little bit of cash,” Guimont said.

The exposure bands got from playing live was an added benefit.

The audience watching at the Battle of the Bands.

“People around campus hopefully get to know their names and go to their shows more, and it definitely supports local musicians,” Guimont said. 

Darian Clark and John Dvorak are two members of the band Gradience. Along with Dvorak and Clark, Ford Johnson and Tom Welson created the band. Their first performance as a group was actually before Clark joined, and it was at the Dragon’s Got Talent show, another event from Dragon Entertainment Group in October 2019. 

Although the band at that time was called Jumping Elephants, they have since then moved to Gradience. According to Clark and John, the name could change again soon.

The group uses a combination of music genres to create their own style. 

Audience member catches the moment at the Battle of the Bands.

“Hard rock with a mix of punk, and then sometimes, every now and then, writing with some more (pop) styles,” Dvorak said.

This event was the first time that all four members of Gradience played together for an audience.

Understudy has been together for about two and a half years. They have five members, two of whom are students at MSUM. Understudy has played shows around the region, making their way to the Twin Cities and Canada, as well as locally in the Fargo-Moorhead area. 

The group has had a few different members in different roles over the years, but currently Spencer Onyx, Jaden Thorstad, Steven Roering, Tyler Henning and Trent Zins make up the band. 

Onyx is a junior majoring in English at MSUM, but he said the group hopes to “make a career out of (their music).”

Understudy’s symbol is an infinity symbol, which Onyx said represents that they make whatever type of music they want to.

“When we’re asked to describe (our music), we say ‘think of somewhere between Panic! at the Disco and The Killers, and meet right in the middle,” Onyx said.

Understudy performing at the Battle of the Bands.

Despite the band’s previous experience around the area, this was their first performance on campus.

“We didn’t really know that there were opportunities like this on campus until this year,” Onyx said. 

Musicians performing at the Battle of the Bands.

Another one of the newer bands was Siltstøne, consisting of two MSUM students. Nadia Nik and Ashley Lopez formed the group mid-January. Nik is a junior majoring in animation and philosophy, and Lopez is a junior majoring in photography.

Musicians performing at the Battle of the Bands.

Just as with Gradience, this was the debut performance for the experimental music group, Siltstøne.

Understudy hadn’t performed for about a month, so Onyx said they were “getting the itch to play again.”

“You can only practice so much and it doesn’t really compare to performing, but I’m just really excited,” Onyx said before the performance.

Understudy’s drummer playing at the Battle of the Bands.

Even though they come from different majors, the two groups, Understudy and Gradience, actually are friends. According to Onyx, they practice together sometimes.

Onyx said Gradience obviously hoped to win, but they were just as excited to be on stage.

“Most importantly, just to have a great time and feel that synergy between band members,” Clark said. “I’m really excited about live performing, just because I haven’t done it whole a lot.” 

Audience watching at the Battle of the Bands.

Dvorak summed up what most musicians or artists feel during their performance. 

“For me, there’s really no better feeling than when you’re actually on stage and performing in front of people.  There’s something about it,” Dvorak said.

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