Meet the contenders for UMN’s 2018 Battle of the Bands

The winner will play as the opening act at Spring Jam on Saturday.

by Maddy Folstein

On Friday, after four rounds of preliminary battles that took place throughout spring semester, five bands will compete to perform at Saturday’s Spring Jam. 

A&E spoke with each group still competing in Battle of the Bands — here’s a glimpse of what the showdown has to offer.  

Last Import

Last Import describes themselves as “a surf-punk-alternative indie group,” according to lead vocalist and guitarist Emily Bjorke. 

The three members of Last Import all have distinct music tastes, ranging from The Beach Boys to My Chemical Romance.

“We all hit different ends of rock music, and then when we all come together, it’s something that’s a mix of all of that,” Bjorke said. 

For the final round of Battle of the Bands, Last Import plans on bringing a set that’s fun and high-energy — it’s the end of the school year, after all.

“The weather kind of sucks, and everyone is hanging in there, so I think using every bit of energy and rock sound we have is going to be our secret weapon,” Bjorke said. 

Papa Velvet & the Good Ghost

Papa Velvet & the Good Ghost draws on neon pop, R&B, jazz and electronic music, and the group is built on a narrative about Papa Velvet, a wistful lounge singer character. 

“He’s like a Frank Sinatra-meets-David Bowie, glittery personality,” lead vocalist Papa Velvet himself said. 

For the final Battle of the Bands performance, Papa Velvet & the Good Ghost plans on bringing out new songs and arrangements. 

“We’re trying to get more vocals in than just Papa Velvet. I’m going to do some stuff, and then our saxophonist Dante has an amazing voice too. So, we’ve got these harmonies going that we’ve been working on,” said Megan Gunderman, a University student, pianist and vocalist. 

Papa Velvet & the Good Ghost hopes their theatricality and wide emotional range will make for an unforgettable performance in the Battle of the Bands final round. 

“We have a chance to let out all those emotions that we all have been building up throughout going through the motions of day-to-day life,” said Ghosty, producer and percussionist. “Then we just get to leave everything else on stage. … You get a whole scope of emotions that let you refresh afterwards.”

Dreams We’ve Had

“Dreams We’ve Had is a compilation of some pop songwriting with some synth … and really intense songs and ethereal, longing songs,” said Bennett Blumberg, a University student who plays synthesizers for the band.

Dreams We’ve Had draws inspiration from bands like Beach House and Tame Impala to produce a dream pop sound.

“They blend psychedelic and synth sound and really interesting music with pop writing. … I really like that sound. … I think it’s more interesting than a normal top 40 hit,” Blumberg said. 

For their set, Dreams We’ve Had is planning on bringing out their favorite songs from their repertoire. 

“We want to showcase who we are as a band, but also play our most relatable songs, to sort of give the audience an idea of who we are,” Blumberg said. 


Musicians Jonathan Fuller and Benjamin Peterson, both students at the University, first started playing together at the age of 13. After years of preparation, the two formed FEED // US, a synthesis of hip-hop, rock and electronic.

“Ben does most of the rapping, and I do most of the singing,” Fuller said. “Then we use a lot of electronics, as well as guitar, bass and drums.” 

The two referenced influences like rap group Doomtree and alternative rock bands. 

“I really like The Flaming Lips. … I’ve listened to a lot of classical composers [because] I’m studying music at the U. … That definitely influences my music and my artistry for sure,” Peterson said. 

After releasing their most recent album, “Delete Your Account,” in 2017, the group is ready to share their work at the Battle of the Bands final round and, hopefully, the Spring Jam stage. 

“We’re just ready for the exposure. We’ve been working on our music for years, cooking up all this stuff, and we know we have something to say,” Fuller said. “We have something to offer. We’re just ready for people to see it.” 

Atomic Cafe

The five-person band Atomic Cafe has been playing together since 2017. 

“I think it’s really hard to describe our sound because we get a lot of influences from different places,” said Nathaniel Essma, lead guitarist of Atomic Cafe. 

Vocalist and guitarist Harry Miles cited “acid jazz, garage rock, psychedelic, maybe a little bit of indie” as primary influences.

For their Battle of the Bands set, Atomic Cafe plans on bringing high energy to amp up the crowd. 

“As far as the set we’re planning, our strategy is to have a lot of energy and play a really fun show for the audience,” Miles said. 

If chosen to open for Spring Jam, Atomic Cafe promises to bring the same energy. 

“We’re a little bit off the wall when we perform,” Miles said. “We like to have fun and engage the audience. … We want to hype people up for Lil Yachty.” 

What: Battle of the Bands: Final Battle 

When: 4:30 p.m., Friday

Where: Coffman Union Front Plaza, 300 Washington Ave. SE., Minneapolis