Dimmed lights and excited students inside the Blind Duck marked the beginning of Sound Summit, a “battle of the bands” event that was a joint effort between the CFRE radio station, the UTM Music Club, and the ICCIT Council last Thursday.
The doors opened at 9 p.m. and the room was bustling with students an hour later. The night’s lineup included four bands—Real Bear, New Design, Trove, and J’Nai—all competing for the grand prize of $250 and the two runner-up prizes of $50 gift cards to Long & McQuade.
The first band, Real Bear, took to the stage at 10:30 p.m. Although the attendees were scattered between the front of the stage and the bar, Real Bear received an enthusiastic welcome and had the crowd joining in by their second song, “Pieces of a Different Puzzle”, an upbeat rock song. Though their style was not as heavy as those of the other bands that night, it got people nodding their heads and even dancing. Band members Elton Fernandes, Brandon Bianco, Mike Papaloni, and Carmen Haines have been playing together since 2011; all agreed that this was their favourite venue to date.
The night’s second act was New Design, whose EP was one of the raffle prizes given out that night. As the night progressed, the energy in the room picked up and the crowd gathered in front of the stage.
Attendees started a mosh pit during Trove’s set. Ray Khan, a member of ICCIT Council who helped book the bands for the night, said, “The mosh pit was the greatest thing ever.” Trove, clearly pleased with the enthusiasm of the audience, celebrated the end of their set by tackling each other to the ground—pretty hardcore for a student band. Trove member Matt “Chewy” Chaitram, who claims that mosh pits are normal at most of their shows, describes their style as hard rock, though they prefer to refer to it as “dirt rock”.
Corey Belford, CFRE’s marketing director, confirmed that 160 tickets had been sold for the event, a better turnout than expected. “Outside the UMC and CFRE there isn’t much of a culture [for alternative music on campus]. We had to find the audience,” said Belford. Weekly meetings between the three clubs were necessary for planning the event, and promoting the event, said Belford, “ultimately [came] down to word of mouth, much like how music is shared these days”.
The last band of the night, and a favourite of many students at Sound Summit, was J’Nai. Although some students had begun to leave by the time J’Nai took the stage, those who stayed jumped, danced, and joined yet another mosh pit. The four members of J’Nai took to the stage and made themselves at home. Lead singer Jeanette’s performance involved a lot of head-banging and hip-shaking. As for her vocal ability, she says she’s been compared to Paramore’s Haley Williams and that her childhood inspirations included Michelle Branch and Courtney Love. This was evident during their set, which ended at 1 a.m.
The night ended with Trove claiming first place and Real Bear and New Design being named the runners-up. With any luck, Sound Summit will return next year.