Last Friday, approximately 500 people gathered at the Alder Amphitheater on the Taylorsville Redwood Campus for Salt Lake Community College’s first Battle of the Bands competition in eight years.
A few weeks into spring, SLCC students, as well as their friends and families, enjoyed the warmer weather and embraced the artistry of eight different-sounding bands with SLCC ties: Magic Kick, Mome Wrath, Sunset Station, Where the Dragons Went, Spaghetti and Legato Sauce, Stranded on Saturn, Train Surfing and Craigslyst.
SLCC provided a free meal ticket to all attendees, allowing patrons to choose from the El Taco Rapido, DaKine Grindz, San Diablo Artisan Churros, and Taste of Louisiana food trucks on site.
Lola Moli, assistant director of student leadership for the Thayne Center, helped organize the event and said she wasn’t surprised by the high turnout after almost two years of limited in-person events.
“My favorite part of the event was seeing students, faculty and staff, and the community enjoy a fun event outside after going through such a hard time during the pandemic, where we were all locked inside and away from one another,” Moli said.
Each band played a few songs — a mix of originals and covers, depending on the band — to highlight their talent, with sets lasting around 20 minutes.
SLCC Student Association President Lindsay Simons, Assistant Vice President for Student Services Curtis Larsen, and Foreign Figures front man EJ Michels then narrowed the field down to three finalists: Sunset Station, Spaghetti and Legato Sauce, and Train Surfing. Craigslyst received an honorable mention.
To determine the winners, an SLCCSA member used a sound meter app on their phone and encouraged the crowd to make as much noise as possible after their favorite band’s name was called. Whoever earned the highest score won the competition.
The nine-piece jazz-rock band Spaghetti and Legato Sauce snagged first place, which earned them $600. Train Surfing got second place, earning $400. Sunset Station finished in third place, which earned them $200. As the honorable mention, Craigslyst won some studio time at the Orem music venue and studio, Boardwalk Sound.
Jéan Castro, lead singer and guitarist of Sunset Station, who played their first concert as a band at the event, said the community coming together to support local artists with diverse backgrounds was his band’s favorite part of the event.
“There was so much talent and so many different genres, the entire event was such a blast, and we were so honored to have participated,” Castro said. “Any chance to bring the community closer together by way of music is always special.”
Brian Cabello, lead singer and guitarist of Stranded by Saturn, whose members are all SLCC students, said he wasn’t surprised by the high turnout.
“Who doesn’t love free food, free music, and student involvement? This was bound to be an epic event and epic turnout,” Cabello said.
Cabello said because of the success of the event, he hopes SLCC decides to hold Battle of the Bands next year as well.
“The involvement of everyone involved, students and staff alike, was something to watch,” Cabello said. “Everything seemed to run so smoothly and from what I gathered, everyone who went loved it.”
Ryland Borough, guitarist and vocalist for Train Surfing, said these events can be important for bands just starting and hopes it’s held every year.
“I think these kinds of events can really open a door for younger bands that need a boost to their confidence and outreach to new listeners,” he said.
Cabello said an event like this gives the opportunity to bands to play for a bunch of new people who haven’t heard their music. “That will help them grow in the local scene,” Cabello said.
Boardwalk Sound joined the event after SLCCSA contacted Logan Casper, co-owner of the venue and studio, during the planning phase. Casper brought a team to help run the event’s lighting and worked with SLCC’s Resonance Club to run sound.
At the end of the night, event organizers announced the winners of the raffle giveaway for an iPad Pro with a keyboard, an iPad, and a $100 bookstore credit, inviting the winners to the stage to receive their prizes.
Upcoming shows for participating bands
- Spaghetti and Legato Sauce is playing a show on April 28 in the Multipurpose Room on the South City Campus.
- Train Surfing is playing shows on April 29 and May 27 at Black Lung Society.
- Stranded on Saturn is opening for Saints of Never After on May 20 at Boardwalk Sound.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the final competition results as well as the second upcoming show date for Train Surfing.