Photo: Nick Dunne

Eccentric indie band wins Ryerson Battle of the Bands

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By Zoe Melnyk

The high-energy band Alma Cassels won Musicians@Ryerson’s fourth-annual Battle of the Bands competition on Thursday night at the Hard Rock Café.

Along with the winning title, Alma Cassel — the four piece band including a guitarist, a main singer and guitarist, a drummer and a bassist keyboard player — also received an industry showcase with Canada’s Music Incubator and Coalition Music, an enterprise which trains and supports emerging artists.

“My adrenaline was so pumped when we were out there, that was one of our best performances energy wise,” Brooklynne Morrison, the band’s guitarist, said.

The competition included six bands in total; each played for 20 minutes which was followed by feedback from a panel of judges.  The judges consisted of Professor Paul Swoger-Ruston from Ryerson’s Department of Philosophy and Music, Anita Cazzola, a former winner of the competition and member of the band The Lifers and Adam Helfand Green, a member of the band The Exide who won the competition last year.

According to Music@Ryerson’s event planner Daniel Max, they were looking to intensify the competition this year.

“Last year the event was a nice show, this year we’re hoping it’s a battle,” he said.

While Alma Cassels secured the win, it wasn’t without a fight. The Ryerson based band Mayraki consistently interacted with the crowd and their enthusiasm sparked a mosh pit. While they did not win the battle, they walked away with the Best Performance award.

“I feel really great, looking around at all the memorabilia, I’m thinking maybe someday my face will be there,” Fithawi Iman, the band’s bassist, said.

Mayraki may have enticed the crowd, but it was Alma Cassels’ cool alternative sound that won the judges over. While announcing the winner, Cazzola raised an interesting observation about the band.

“I have to give a shout out to the only female performer of the night,” she said referring to the band’s guitarist. “As a female musician myself, it’s nice to see a girl up there and we still need more.”

The venue was booked at the Hard Rock Café for the second year in a row. According to Liam Grier, the Vice President of Administration Finance Chair for Musicians@Ryerson, the Hard Rock Café was a no brainer.

“The Hard Rock is an icon and the biggest thing for us is that it’s right by campus,” he said.

Grier also added that the entire event would not have been possible without assistance from the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU).

“It definitely helped that we were able to get a grant from the RSU, with our budget, we wouldn’t have been able to secure it,” he said.

The competition included four other bands including Northern Riot, a blues rock band that opened the show, the groovy alternative band Astral Nomad, the alternative band Love Wagon and the alternative pop band Cheap Flights.

While the competition was said to be fiercer than years before, Grier emphasized that the main objective of the competition is to promote Ryerson’s music scene.

“This is the biggest event of the year for Musicians@Ryerson, bands practice for months and this is where they can leave it all on the line,” he said.

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