For the past number of years the dedicated folks over at the UCC Music Society have worked tirelessly to put on one of the most hotly anticipated college events of the entire term – the UCC Battle of the Bands. Slews of young, college-going bands once again answered the call for entries in the hopes of securing the moniker of BOTB Champions alongside a rather impressive prize of two days recording time in Cork’s own Blackwater Studios. Over the past month three heats have taken place in Cyprus Avenue, setting up what is sure to be a stellar final.
Heat 1 kicked proceedings off strongly with a line-up of hip-hop lothario Transient Water Bottle, blues-rock group Crojayn and the hotly tipped Happy Alone. Transient Water Bottle, a project curated, created and performed by UCC music student Cormac Porter, was given the unfavourable task of opening the show. An impressive performance by Porter saw the audience treated to 20 minutes of satirical, true-to-the-cause hip hop in a welcome change from most Battle of the Bands entries. The display also was noted for Porter’s foregoing of tradition by not performing on the actual stage, rather rapping in amongst the crowd. Esoteric outfit Happy Alone duly followed with a set that genuinely explored the sonic landscape, dance, trance, indie-pop et al were all touched upon with frontman Fionn Tobin’s eerily cascading vocals striking a chord with the crowd. The group have been riding on the crest of a wave as their recent single, ‘Colours’, hit the top spot on the Irish Viral Charts on Spotify, and the crowd inevitably erupted when the three piece dropped the track. Alt-Rock blues outfit Crojayn closed out the night with a furious, vintage rock and roll performance. It was blustering, classic and breathless from the established group, and it was their on stage proficiency that won the judges over and sent them through to the final.
Similarly, Heat 2 built upon a strong start, as three impressive Cork groups vied for a spot in the finale. Sit Still opened the night with an impressively strong performance, one that is even more impressive when considering the group has only been in existence for little over 2 months, and this was in fact their first gig. Fans of the group Small Talk Radio recognized the duo of Mick Fitzgerald on Bass and Alex O’Regan on guitar. Cork scene regular Andy Killian manned the drums and vocals for the performance, whilst the majority of the material performed on the night was the brainchild of guitarist Donnacha O’Brien. Ghostking Is Dead followed with a well-balanced set of smooth, jazz-influenced, “post-mortem” indie before finishing with a booming track titled ‘Cruelty’. Frontman Matt Corrigan has been releasing music under the title ‘Ghostking is Dead’ for the better part of three years, before assembling a live band in August of 2017 with the aim of performing more live sets. The night was brought to a rousing crescendo by Waterford-based band Central Hall. Brothers Alex and Jordan Gough man the drums and vocals respectively, and the group’s polished and freakishly tight brand of funk-rock brought the crowd in Cyprus Avenue to its knees. After much deliberation by the judges, and a terribly close result, Central Hall progressed to join Crojayn in the final.
Heat 3 saw a fantastic crowd descend upon the Caroline Street venue, with last years finalists Aponym returning to start the night’s entertainment. Infectious grooves combined with utterly jaw shattering riffs ensured that not a single head was left un-banged when the metal group finished their furious 20 minute set. Next up were three piece Pretty Happy, who brought an excellent brand of Strokes-esque indie rock soaked in punkish know-how. The 2017 CIT Battle of the Bands winners Kill Em’ Charlie performed last on the night, and the pop-punk 5-piece didn’t disappoint, however it was the behemoths of Aponym that swayed the judges and launched themselves into the final yet again.
The UCC Battle of the Bands final will take place in Cyprus Avenue tomorrow night.
(photo credit: Nick O’Donnell)