Walking into Club 88, the room was tingling with an excited ambiance. Poets of all years sat waiting for their peers to be brought onto stage, and the dim violet lighting gave everyone a little extra Poet spirit.
Last Thursday, on March 8, 2018, the campus had its second annual Battle of the Bands competition, hosted by our very own Kpoet Radio. This competition gives Whittier students a chance to perform on stage at our new annual event called Whittfest, which is celebrating its second birthday this year. Performing on stage at Whittfest means the chance to open for artist Tory Lanez, and this year’s winner is fourth-year Aaron Shreve.
The Whittier artist may go by his given name in class, but on stage the DJ goes by shreviewonder (yes it is all lowercase). The winner hasn’t been DJing for very long. It all started in Barcelona when he was studying abroad his third year. “I met some guys who DJ regularly at the clubs I would go to,” said Shreve. “I ended up initially learning from those guys, and then, once I returned home, I invested in some turntables and started practicing.” He usually likes to play trap, house, and a variety of other electronic genres mixed with hip hop, but for Battle of the Bands, Shreve styled his music with a mix of old and new school hip hop, hoping it would be a crowd pleaser — which it obviously was. “I enjoyed the different styles of music every person brought to the competition,” said fourth -year Tim Hillman. “Regardless of genre, the performers were able to integrate their own styles and make the entire night interesting.”
Not only was the student audience able to vote for their favorite act, but there was a judge panel of three students and one professor as well. One of the notable judges was Professor of Psychology Chuck Hill. According to Hill, the judges were looking for musicality, interaction with the audience, appropriate attire, and audience response. “My recommendation for future performers is to make sure that you look at the audience occasionally,” said Hill, “since some ignored the audience.” The audience sure noticed the performers, though.
Anyone who entered Club 88 that night couldn’t miss the audience’s reaction to their friends’ music. During performances, students in the audience were shouting their friends’ names who were on stage, and, at one point, there was even a group of students jumping and dancing in the back of the room. Hillman was there to support friend Aaron Mazon, another DJ competitor. “He had a large supporting crowd come out for him. Showing our support for Aaron was awesome,” said Hillman.
Aside from the two DJs, there were also two instrumental groups who performed, which was the same type of group to open for T-Pain at last year’s Whittfest. Last year’s Battle of the Bands’ winning group was called 7 Planets Like Earth. Shreve is here to switch it up this year, from an instrumental band to DJ mixes with his set. While around 50 students came to the competition this year, Hillman suggests trying to get a bigger crowd at the performances to expand student engagement. “Perhaps performing at lunch or a different time of the day will attract a new group of listeners to enjoy the competition,” said Hillman.
One of the fortes of the Battle of the Bands competition seems to be unanimous — Poets getting to experience their peers’ art work is rare, and this is a great example of the support our campus is capable of. “I love watching my peers perform because I see a different side to them that isn’t often shared,” said fourth-year Sam Esposito. “I appreciate their talent and creativity and how they are able to share it with everyone.” This year, Professor Hill was asked by the organizers to be a part of the judge’s panel, but he said he would be willing to do it again in the future, and he encourages everyone to attend Whittfest. If you don’t have any friends performing, and you don’t enjoy live music (but let’s be real, we all enjoy live music), having professors such as Hill on the judge’s panel is reason enough to attend next year’s competition.
Shreve originally found out about Battle of the Bands in an email, and thought it might be a fun experience. “I was super excited to have the opportunity to compete — let alone win — the competition,” said Shreve. According to Shreve, he has been practicing daily to prepare his set for Whittfest and is ready to open Whittier’s newest large-scale event on a high note. “I guarantee I’ll get you pumped for Tory Lanez to come on stage, ” he said. Whittfest will be held on Friday, April 6, 2018. In the meantime, shreviewonder is available for parties, dances, and other events at firstname.lastname@example.org.