Irvine’s Youth Action Team (YAT) hosted its 25th annual Battle of the Bands competition at Heritage Park Community Center on Feb. 23 from 6:30‒10:30 p.m.
The Monks of Funk, a jazz band comprised of Northwood and University High School students, placed first after a performance of “African Skies,” “Strasbourg Saint Denis,” “Alfie’s Theme” and “High Noon.”
“Battle of the Bands was like nothing I’ve experienced before,” Monks of Funks bassist and Northwood sophomore Chris Visan. “The whole crowd was supportive of the music we were playing, even though it was jazz in a mostly rock setting. It didn’t feel like I had to impress them; it just felt like I was playing for my friends.”
Five bands with students representing Irvine’s five high schools competed, with the winner receiving the grand prize of a professional recording session at Hybrid Studios.
“The winner gets to perform in their studio for the entire day, which has a value of over a thousand dollars,” YAT Program Coordinator Steve Knollmiller said. “Young the Giant recorded there—it’s a really cool experience for the winners.”
As bands performed, audience members could purchase refreshments for $1 or less from the YAT Bake Sale. Proceeds were donated to TIYYA, an organization that provides community support to families of refugees, low-income immigrants and displaced Americans.
Battle of the Bands was created to provide students with a chance to display their skills in front of an audience without having to pay for an opportunity to perform, according to Knollmiller.
“We don’t discriminate by talent, so if you’re in a band and you attend a high school in Irvine, we want to give you the opportunity to perform for your friends,” Knollmiller said. “A lot of times, this’ll be the only time they’ll play on stage, so that’s the unique thing.”
The event proved to be an inspirational experience for the budding musicians, who showcased their talent through diverse performances ranging from rock to jazz.
“I was skeptical at first, but I was glad I did [Battle of the Bands] because it was an interesting experience,” Northwood junior William Pandes, a member of Carrot Plantation, said. “Seeing the different bands with our different styles made me want to continue doing music.”
Admission was $5 for students and $6 for adults, and the event was sponsored by Hybrid Studios, which brought in volunteers as judges and handled sound and lighting.
Groups that performed at the Battle of the Bands have other upcoming performances. The Monks of Funk will be performing again on April 28 from 6‒9 p.m. at Irvine Spectrum and plans to continue playing at future events.