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Bands battle for a spot at North by North Texas at UPC’s Battle of the Bands

Bands battle for a spot at North by North Texas at UPC’s Battle of the Bands

The Low & Plenty fills the syndicate with their unique folk sound. Will Baldwin

Bands battle for a spot at North by North Texas at UPC’s Battle of the Bands
April 04
20:08 2018

After a two year hiatus, the UPC sponsored Battle of the Bands competition made its return. The bands The Low and Plenty, Nautilus, Triston Coomes and Ladybug each had fifteen minutes to impress the audience in hopes of winning a performance slot at next month’s North by North Texas festival.

Folk band The Low and Plenty, comprised of Zack Bleiberg, Anthony Cappeto, Sam Caster, Collins McLaughlin, Ariana Mercardo and Madellyn Moran, was the first band to perform.

After they were introduced by UPC music coordinator Clarissa Medrano, they filled the syndicate with strong harmonies and rapid strumming on acoustic guitars. Their passion for folk seemed to translate to the audience as they smiled through their performance.

“We really like [folk] collectively, and it’s just really organic,” psychology sophomore Medrano said. “We don’t really see a lot of folk in Denton, student-wise.”

The Low and Plenty engaged the crowd during their set by inviting them to give advice on the names of two new songs they debuted, one of which is called “Gold.”

The band appeared to be very comfortable on stage, which could be attributed to their consensual dedication to music.

“Music is what I want to do with my life, so just having that outlet on the side while I’m doing school is so beneficial to me because it’s something where I can express my creativity and do what I love,” vocalist Moran said.

Hunter Napier drums for Triston Coomes. Will BaldwinLadybug finishes their set strong at UPC Battle of the Bands. Will Baldwin_DSC3838
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Nautilus guitar player lays down original guitar riffs to win UPC Battle of the Bands. Will Baldwin

Following up the opening act was Nautilus. The more rock-oriented band brought a change of atmosphere with their song “Sugar Spice and Everything Nice.” They even dedicated a song to the late UNT icon, Lucky the squirrel.

Members Cameron Bosch, Daniel Mata, Kacen Siney and Willem Stewart played songs that transitioned from fast guitar and prominent drums to a mellow groove. Their smooth execution of tempo change within each song, along with their natural demeanor and chemistry on stage is reminiscent of a band that has been together for quite some time. Nautilus, however, has only spent a couple weeks together. 

“I think we actually got together two weeks ago,” math junior Mata said. “We’ve played in other bands, but [Nautilus] specifically [formed] then.”

For Nautilus, winning Battle of the Bands and being able to perform at North by North Texas so early in their time as a band is motivation to keep the band going.

“It feels great,” Mata said. “We were actually talking about this, [and said] ‘if we win, that means we have to put in effort.’ Not that we weren’t before. It’s just an awesome feeling, and we’re definitely going to give it our best and see what happens.”

The third band to take the stage, Triston Coomes, is made up of members Triston Coomes, Cameron Crowley, Jack Jones, Luke Meadows and Hunter Napier.

Together for about six months, the group met at UNT and have been close ever since.

“Those boys become your brothers [really] quick,” music junior Coomes said. “[This] has to be the best relationship experience I’ve ever had.”

The band describes their music as pop rock, comparing it to Kings of Leon and John Mayer as they cover songs by both artists, along with an original called “Make My Mind.”

Coomes himself is usually nervous before shows, but the relaxed vibe of Battle of the Bands, along with the band’s level of preparation has eased those nerves.

“UNT and UPC do a really good job at making it kind of fun,” Coomes said. “They’re there hoping that you do great.” 

Ladybug was the last band to perform, merging rock and R&B while on stage. Members Kyle Farley, John Musser and Nick Via got together in December 2016 to form the band.

Via, a student at UT-Dallas, enjoyed having the opportunity to play in Denton, as well as being able to watch the other local bands.

“It felt really good,” Via said. “Everyone was so good. All the bands were so exciting and really tight and talented, so that made it great for everyone — it made it really easy to be here.”

As the music coordinator of UPC, Medrano felt it was important to bring back Battle of the Bands this year as part of her mission to diversify the music being showcased at UNT.

“I really wanted to make sure that we had bands,” Medrano said. “ I give a lot of opportunities for solo performers throughout the semester, so I really wanted it to just be a band thing.”

However, gathering acts to play the event was not an easy feat for Medrano and her UPC music committee.

“Battle of the Bands specifically takes a lot of planning,” Medrano said. “You have to organize students. Surprisingly people don’t sign up for stuff, so [it involves] really talking to people and on social media [asking] ‘Hey, are you in a band?’”

In the end, it was Nautilus that emerged victorious.

As the winner of the competition, the band will be afforded the opportunity to play a full set at North by North Texas on April 27 while runner up, The Low and Plenty will perform a smaller 30-minute set.

The bands and their music can be found on their social media accounts:

The Low and Plenty: https://twitter.com/TheLowAndPlenty

Triston Coomes:  https://www.instagram.com/tristoncoomes/

Nautilus:  https://twitter.com/Nautilus_US

Ladybug:  https://www.facebook.com/ALadybugRuinedMyLife/

Featured Image: The Low & Plenty fills the syndicate with their unique folk sound. Will Baldwin

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Nikki Johnson-Bolden

Nikki Johnson-Bolden

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