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Bands battle for Bullstock

An on-campus concert gives students the chance to see fellow students’ bands square off, and its performers the chance to play on the same stage as a Billboard chart-topper.

The Campus Activities Board (CAB) will hold its first-ever Battle of the Bands tomorrow from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Marshall Student Center Amphitheater.

The event’s winner gets to open the eighth annual USF Bullstock concert, for which electro-pop hip-hop duo 3OH!3 is slated to headline.

The free, daylong music festival will be organized once again by CAB, and will take place April 9 at the Meadows on the corner of Holly Drive and 50th Street.

CAB Executive Director and graduate student Jessica Antonen said she wanted to host the Battle of the Bands during last October’s free 30 Seconds to Mars show, but couldn’t make it in the concert’s timeline.

“The Battle of the Bands idea is unique, something we’ve never done before within CAB,” Antonen said. “It’s pretty intense.”

The Gallery, a West Palm Beach folk-rock group who opened Bullstock last year, is now one of 16 bands nationwide in the running to appear on Rolling Stone’s cover and snag an Atlantic Records deal.

In order to be eligible for Battle of the Bands, groups needed at least one student member and had to turn in a three-song CD.

From there, the submissions were narrowed down to four bands – ANEW, The Wanderer, Top Shelf and Gates of Eden.

ANEW is a pop-punk quartet for fans of acts like A Day To Remember and Four Year Strong.

Will DeHaan, the band’s drummer and an undeclared freshman, said the band stumbled upon the opportunity to play.

“They basically found us,” DeHaan said. “We played at Bull Market and somebody from CAB said, ‘Hey, you should sign up for Battle of the Bands.'”

Now in the midst of planning a California summer tour and recording a full-length album, DeHaan said the show would be “playing in front of the biggest crowds we’ve had, so it’d be nice to win.”

The Wanderer’s members, meanwhile, describe themselves as a folk-blues Americana band like Murder By Death or Johnny Cash.

“We definitely have a different sound from the other bands,” drummer Samantha Satterfield said. “So it’s kind of a toss-up whenever we do a battle of a bands thing, because a lot of times we play with a lot of hardcore bands.”

Chris Perez, the lead vocalist and guitarist and a sophomore majoring in mass communications, said he applied as another way to promote the Wanderer’s music.

“Sometimes we just hang outside of parking lots blaring our CDs,” Perez said.

Satterfield said she got excited when she heard about the chance to open for this year’s Bullstock headliner.

“I’m the only one that truly likes 3OH!3,” Satterfield said. “I love 3OH!3 and when I heard about it, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I want to go to that show.'”

Greg Baker, Top Shelf’s bassist and a junior majoring in finance, said he’s trying to keep a positive perspective on the upcoming four-way face-off.

“No matter the outcome, it’ll be a fun experience,” Baker said. “I’m always about putting on a good show.”

Baker said the four-piece came together after meeting in the Bulls Business Community – a USF College of Business living-learning community – and have a sound similar to rock bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Cage the Elephant and Muse.

Rob Morris, a senior majoring in political science and lead vocalist and guitarist for Gates of Eden, said his band’s musical influences span Dave Matthews, Tool and Michael Jackson.

“We really can’t compare ourselves with any other bands, which I think works in our favor,” Morris said.

He said the band will hand out free CDs at the show and will tour nationwide this summer – playing 45 shows in 60 days.

“I really love USF and all it has done for me over the few years I’ve attended,” Morris said. “It would really be great to be part of something that initiates a lasting campus tradition.”

Ultimately, Antonen said she hopes CAB can continue Battle of the Bands as it has with Bullstock.

“Our hope for the (Battle of the Bands) is to become another USF tradition on campus,” Antonen said.