Ryerson bands battle out at the Hard Rock Cafe

Two musical groups at Ryerson’s third annual Battle of the Bands walked away with the opportunity to play at an industry showcase for Coalition Music.

Musicians@Ryerson, a student group to support and engage musicians on campus, organized its biggest competition yet with a six-band lineup and packed show on March 5.

Though classic rockers The Exide were the official winners of the grand prize, the representative from music management company Coalition decided to give The Lifers the same opportunity. Finger Eleven, Simple Plan and USS are some of the bands currently on Coalition’s artist roster.

“I was really impressed by those girls, and I decided to also give the same prize to them,” said Coalition’s Jesse Mitchell about The Lifers, an indie-folk sister duo. “I think they deserved it.”

The sisters, Anita and Liv Cazzola, were the only women in the competition, and they also won the prize for best vocalists. They said that while they were happy to get recognition and exposure, it was really more about performing and having fun.

“It’s really valuable to get more feedback,” said Liv, “but we’re not thinking we need to win.”

“Yeah, it’s just more of a performance for us than a competition,” Anita added.

The  Cazzola sisters took the stage with a small collection of instruments, but the real stars were the pair’s smooth harmonies, poetic lyrics, and casual yet vibrant on-stage chemistry.

The Exide, on the other hand, had six members and was the largest group in the competition. The band won over the judges with a multifaceted classic rock sound. The front-man, Matt Snell, who graced the stage in striped bell-bottoms, put on a charismatic performance.

“We’re really excited,” said guitarist Adam Helfand-Green, the lone Ryerson student in the band. “It was nice that the judges noticed the little details that we put into our music, it was great to be recognized for all the hard work we put in.”

The Battle of the Bands competition used to be held at the Imperial Pub and this was the first year it was held at a larger venue, The Hard Rock Cafe.

“Don’t get me wrong, the backroom of the Imperial was fun, but it wasn’t this,” said organizer Daniel Siegel, while gesturing around at the crowded venue. “The Hard Rock Cafe was a dream.”

Siegel, director of educational operations for Musicians@Ryerson, organizes small workshops for musicians. He said he’s thrilled with the event, despite the difficult process of putting it together. Last year, three of the scheduled bands and all the judges dropped out last minute.

The prizes for best performer and best instrumentalist were awarded to The Blue Stray’s vocalist, Aarone Amino, and bassist, Juan Udarbe, respectively.

Siegel said normally he wouldn’t take on the task of organizing Battle of the Bands, but when he heard the impressive list of performers, he knew he wanted to make it a bigger and better event than ever.

The funds raised from the night will go toward future workshops and events for student musicians at Ryerson.


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