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Battle of the Bands is back and is “here to rage!”

Offering local musicians the chance to compete to perform at the University of Minnesota’s Spring Jam, Battle of the Bands has returned to The Whole.
Image by Ray Shehadeh
Flying Fuzz, a Wisconsin-based music group, performs at the Whole’s Annual Battle of the Bands on Friday, Feb. 4.

Under the red glow in The Whole Music Club’s poster-covered space on Feb. 4, the venue’s annual Battle of the Bands returned with mosh pits and guitar solos that left attendees in a daze.

Opening its doors to musicians and fans alike, the music competition invites artists to compete to win a finalist spot in the University of Minnesota’s Spring Jam lineup. Every Friday night of February, Battle of the Bands will bring in music makers and lovers alike to the basement of Coffman Union on campus. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the first set begins at 8 p.m.

“Stay, cheer and mosh,” Arianna Xu, the lead singer of Chinatown Snakes yelled to the audience on Friday night. “We’re here to rage!”

The singer is one of four members of the University of Minnesota-based band that performed that night. Like all of the other musicians who performed, Xu’s energy left the audience ready to move.

Xu explained that after competing remotely in Battle of the Bands 2021, being back in front of a live audience made the experience something new. “It’s fantastic to be able to have the energy that the audience gives back to us,” she said.

Chinatown Snakes played a punk-based set that included a cover of “R U Mine?” by the Arctic Monkeys and offered original songs about trying to forget that one all-too-unforgettable love. Their lyrics and melodies sprang off of the walls as the members of the band captivated audience members with stage dives in oversized sweatshirts and smeared black eyeliner.

“We range anywhere from a late-night brooding indie rock to some punk influence,” Xu said. All members of the band come from different music backgrounds, and Xu explained that those
different sounds create something no one has heard before.

Quinn McClurg was in the front row for Chinatown Snakes. As the night continued, he was one of the first to jump in the mosh-pits and, when the night came to a close, one of the last to leave.

As an avid Twin Cities music scene lover and student at the University, he explained that going to Battle of the Bands was a must.

“I know a couple of people in some of the bands here and I really like supporting them,” McClurg said. “Before I even came to the U, I loved the music scene. You know, all of the bands from the cities. It’s cool to be a part of it, even if it’s just by supporting them.”

McClurg had seen all of the bands performing in Friday night’s competition before and he knew the competition was going to be good.

“It’s going to be really hard to pick a winner,” McClurg said. “Obviously, it’s going to be the one my friend is in, but don’t tell anyone.”

Flying Fuzz, the Wisconsin-based music group and second band to perform, made their Minnesota performance debut on Friday night’s stage.

“It isn’t often that we get to cross state lines and shout our names from the mountain tops, especially in a city that’s bigger than ours,” Benson Wood, one of the lead singers and guitar players of the band said.

Priding themselves on similarities to Black Sabbath, the four-member metal band hails from Wisconsin and brought a following with them. With shoulder-length hair, vintage 1970s t-shirts and a stage presence that attracted nearly every attendee to the stage, Flying Fuzz was a reincarnation of original rock trailblazers.

“We’re mostly worried about having fun. We’re not worried about winning per se, we’re just here to put on a good show,” Wood said. “But if we were to win, it would be a great chance to be able to spread the word of the gospel of the Fuzz.”

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