Soul for Youth, a 9-piece band that blends R&B and hip-hop, emerged as the winner of this year’s Battle of the Bands, beating out the six other acts that performed last Friday night to an at-capacity crowd in Lerner Hall.
The Bacchanal executive board organizes Battle of the Bands as a yearly event, giving student musicians a platform to perform and other students the opportunity to vote for who they want to see as the student headliner at the Bacchanal music fest.
The night’s sets offered an eclectic mix, with everyone from rappers to DJs to neo-soul-influenced ensembles taking the stage. As the genres evolved throughout the night, the crowd did as well, going from still and reserved to dancing and shouting along to the music by the third or fourth act.
The contest’s winner, Soul for Youth, was founded near the beginning of the 2017 fall semester and features Mamadou Yattassaye, CC ’21, as MC; Julia Rocha, BC ’20, on vocals; David Acevedo, CC ’19, on trumpet; Timoteo Cruz, CC ’21, on trombone; Riley Swain, CC ’21, on baritone sax; Sean Kim, CC ’20, on keyboard; Liam Broderick, CC ’21, on guitar; Nigel Telman, SEAS ’21, on bass; and Jesse Thorson, CC ’18, on drums.
The band used its expansive lineup to its advantage. At some moments, its music would feature the interplay of rap and singing, while at others, the guitar would shine through with delicate riffs, only for the horn section to then come blaring back to the forefront. In short, Soul for Youth kept its sound constantly fluid, and the audience clearly responded.
Aside from “Soul for Youth,” acts like 7_100 and DJ 999 helped energize the crowd with their thumping dance mixes. The Horticulture infused soulful, three-part vocal harmonies into covers like “American Boy” and originals alike, while Riverside N’ Blues brought their own takes of Stevie Wonder and Amy Winehouse to the stage. Rapper Kidd AM, meanwhile, made her performance debut, showing equal confidence whether engaging the crowd in call-and-response hooks or delivering spoken-word poetry to a hushed room. And Qixote brought in a special guest, fellow Columbia student and rapper Coldman, for a set whose highlight came at the end of the performance when Qixote slipped into a high-energy, rapid-fire delivery to an enthusiastic audience.
“This is the time when students have the most input,” said Bacchanal Executive Board co-president Nza-Ari Khepra of the event. The Battle of the Bands offers a unique opportunity for students to shape Bacchanal by letting them vote for their favorite act.
While the student’s choice determined that Soul for Youth will be taking the stage at the festival on April 7th, the remaining choice of headliners lies in the hands of Bacchanal’s executive board and is set to be announced on March 30th.