The annual Battle of the Bands at USF gives student musicians the opportunity to showcase their talent and passion in hopes of performing at Bullstock, one of the most popular events during USF Week.
Students and a panel of judges vote on their favorite music group, and for one of the bands competing at this year’s Battle of the Bands, the competition provided an opportunity to show their growth.
After facing defeat in their very first Battle of the Bands competition in 2017, the five members of Coastals had a year of experience and confidence under their belt when they competed once again in March.
With the people’s choice vote on their side, Coastals finally reigned as the official Bullstock 2018 opener.
“We played Battle of the Bands last year when we were getting our start playing shows,” Tyler Freeman, Coastals lead singer, said. “We really feel that having that year made a difference in our confidence, outreach and ability to perform.”
Through performances and music releases, Coastals demonstrates their mix of indie, rock and alternative sound, and it helps that the band members have always shared a similar love for music.
“Tyler (Freeman) and I started getting into writing songs in 2014,” guitarist James Chouinard said. “Then we both moved to Tampa to go to USF about a year apart and started mixing music in our rooms.”
From mixing songs in a bedroom to getting the opportunity to perform at Bullstock alongside big-name artists like We The Kings, COIN and xAmbassadors, it is clear that the members of Coastals have made a name for themselves through hard work and devotion to the unique sounds they create.
Gaining a significant following of loyal listeners, Coastals has had the chance to play the 97X Next Big Thing local band search, has been featured on Indie Rock Café’s list of 5 DIY Bands to Watch and has made two appearances on popular YouTuber Alex Rainbird’s Indie/Rock/Alternative music compilation.
But for Coastals, it is a special opportunity to perform at this year’s Bullstock.
“It is a privilege to be playing alongside some acts that we grew up listening to,” Freeman said. “I believe We The Kings are also from Bradenton, which is where James (Chouinard) and I grew up.”
Freeman also explained that while it feels good to have an outlet to express themselves, it is rewarding to see listeners get to connect through the band’s outlet too.
After persevering following the band’s first Battle of the Bands experience and having a year of growth, Coastals will once again get the chance to connect others through music at this year’s Bull Stock.
For Chouinard, this is perhaps the most important part; connecting the ones who listen.
“If people aren’t smiling and dancing and connecting, then what’s the point?” he said.
Coastals will perform live at Bullstock on April 6 at 6 p.m. in the Sun Dome parking lot.