It’s a Thursday night around 8 p.m.
Crossroads looks as usual: students sitting around, chatting, laughing, eating, waiting patiently in line for pizza with cardboard take-out containers. A few cluster around the television. The influx of Crossroads customers is only a little larger than normal. It’s an ordinary evening.
9 p.m. rolls around.
Crossroads has undergone a transformation. Many students are standing; some, dancing. Heads are bobbing, shoulders swaying, hips bouncing, hands waving, as local band Jahlectrik weaves their rhythmic, fluid movements together with a mellow reggae beat.
This performance on April 23 was part of USF’s Battle of the Bands sponsored by Whole Students, Whole Campus, an orginization whose mission is to reduce high -risk drinking and its consequences at USF. Seven local bands were brought to compete for a few hundred dollars of prizes before an approving crowd of Crossroads patrons, as well as five judges, among whom were USF student Annie Lawler, USF staff member Annemarie Galeucia and Bay Area musicians Andrew Perfetto, Jesse Grant and John Predny.
The event kicked off with a performance by student rap duo The Manchowder, who got the audience whooping and clapping and participating, despite a few minor technical issues (“They were funny, but I couldn’t hear what they were saying,” said one student as she left early.)
Following was a lineup of bands with varied styles, from the psychedelic style of Ghost Town Refugees, to Cactus Mouth’s frenetic indie rock, to The Nocturnal Rock Turtles (who were accompanied by a funky element of brass—a trombone, trumpet and a saxophone), to the gentle acoustic songs performed by duo Anastasia and Chris (with Chris providing guitar and vocals and the multitalented Anastasia supplying at any given time vocals, guitar, harmonica or tambourine).
Asked for her favorite band out of the lineup, USF junior Corinne Aparis replied, “Jahlectrik.” From the audience’s reaction, the majority of students would agree with her. Local reggae act Jahlectrik drew enthusiasm and energy from the crowd, who, even after a comparatively long set during which the students danced and clapped and sang along, were left yelling “We want more!” and “One more song!”
At the end of the event, bands were judged based on vocal/instrumental skills, the quality of their material or covers, entertainment value, professionalism and audience response. Local band Inner Sunset took the $50 prize and third place, with Cactus Mouth coming in second with $100. First prize went to Nocturnal Rock Turtles, who emerged from the battle with a $200 award, to the sound of the students’ loud approval.
The atmosphere at Battle of the Bands was surprisingly supportive of the performers. Students cheered and whooped for each band, and the closest anyone came to heckling was an offer of constructive criticism by one of the audience members (“The bass is too loud, you need to lower the volume.”) “I just like how everyone’s here using Crossroads,” Aparis said. “When I was a freshman, not that many people were at Crossroads, so I liked how [the Battle of the Bands] brings everyone together. It makes the school more diverse and musically inclined.”