Schoolhouse rock

Schoolhouse rock

Yaamini Venkataraman

200 dollars. Eight bands. One winner


View in full screen to view band names and photo captions.


Battle of the Bands Promo from El Estoque on Vimeo.


Just like our brains, MVHS seems to have a split-personality disorder. On the left, we have hard working, more than 4.0 GPA braniacs, characterizing our school as nothing more than one of academic merit. And on the right, we have those who can shred like Rock Gods and make head-banging look cool.

Community Leadership’s Youth Commission hosted its third annual Battle of the Bands on Jan. 8 in the Auditorium. The same stage that normally features elaborate sets and people in flamboyant costumes now sported amps, guitar stands and a drum set ready for action. Pumped and excited to perform, all eight bands could taste the $200 cash prize and emcees sophomores Karishma Mehrotra and Peter Choi were ready to keep the audience going with some humor. The proceeds of this event went towards FamiliesFirst, a non-profit organization that helps traumatized children and their families.

Mic check. Testing one, two and sing. After a rousing welcome from the commissioners, Fat Lui started off the event. Even though some mic trouble caused minor bumps in the road, guitarist and 2008 alumnus Paul Marino treated adversity with humor saying, "If this was a battle of the mic set-up, I think we already lost." If there’s anything Fat Lui showed us, it’s that junior Ab Menon can play drums like no other. Hair flailing, his beat was echoing through the auditorium and coursing through your veins, matching with the "lubb dubb" of your heartbeat.

C&C California featured "The Calculation" by Regina Spektor and "Poker Face" by Lady Gaga, both songs arranged by senior pianist Catherine Shieh. For "Poker Face" the music had a more cabaret-inspired feel, evoking the style of the musical "Chicago". Senior Christina Yglesias complemented this feeling with her raw vocals.

When it came to being rock stars, no group could out head-bang Brown Sound. Experience is a great teacher and Brown Sound used it to their advantage having already performed two times at previous Battle of the Bands. The group was glowstick-laden, hanging them from the drum set and taping them to their pants. Senior Sumukh Anand constantly directed the audience, having them form a makeshift mosh pit and sing-along to their cover of "Tik Tok" by Ke$ha.

Seniors Varun Dwaraka and Vincent Nguyen of Vacant Anthem slowed things down with their set list of more lyrical songs. Nguyen sang with a smooth voice that could make girls go weak at the knees, complemented by Dwaraka’s soothing guitar playing. Feeding off the audience’s energy, they played two encores—two more chances to wave glowsticks and cell phones up in the air.

After intermission, New Heights was ready to get the show on the road. They started off softly but later came on strongly as they ended with a cover of "Use Somebody" by Kings of Leon, audience singing along. New Heights featured the clearest vocals with a perfect blend of guitar and bass.

The members of Anomaly struted on stage, clad in their band colors, red and black, complete with some red hairspray and a balloon hat for that extra touch. Guitarist sophomore Max Sorg taught the audience that everyone loves to hear people shred like a pro. Lead singer sophomore Jeremy Irvin carried the band through songs like "La de da da", the band’s first original , followed by another original called "The Fallen".

Performing for the first time on stage together, sophomores Aaron Ho and Libby Cha showcased their vocal talent as Passion and Passionette. They sang a medley of popular songs, including "Single Ladies" by Beyonce and "Knocks You Down" by Keri Hilson.

Closing the show was Crash on Garage Door, performing for the second time in Battle of the Bands, featuring the original "Be with You" by guitarist junior Gavin Mueller.

But wait, there’s more. While the commissioners were tallying up votes, sophomore Jacob Lui played the piano and sang "Dreaming with a Broken heart" by John Mayer and "Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley. The commissioners needed more time and the audience wanted more, so Lui performed "Umbrella" by Rhianna. When the curtains opened during the first chorus, all of the bands were there singing along. One blink, and all of the bands and even some of the audience members were sitting on stage around Lui  in one display of musical unity.

Of course, every band was talented, but the show couldn’t end without a winner. With Fat Lui in third and Passion and Passionette coming in second, the rest of the bands closed their eyes and crossed their fingers, hoping for a win. In the end, Brown Sound won for the second time, closing out their last Battle of the Bands with something to remember it by. Trophies handed out, music stops, event is over. People trickled out of the auditorium still reveling in the music they experienced.

Rock and roll or screamo, metal or pop, the bands showcased the other side of MVHS. Maybe we should all try taking our right brain for a spin.