By Premila D’Sa
“Are you feeling the sensation?” asks Love Wagon’s smooth vocalist and keyboardist Sam Ehsaei in the band’s opening track Get on the Love Wagon. “The wagon’s in the station!”
The crowd and judges got on board with Love Wagon’s self described “sort of funk, jazz, rock fusion” sound at the sixth annual Musicians@Ryerson (M@R) Battle of the Bands, where the five piece group nabbed first place. The win means they’ll be playing at Riverfest Elora, a three-day music festival in Elora, Ont. this summer. The band is set to open the stage on Aug. 18. They’ll be followed by acts like The Flaming Lips and Carly Rae Jepsen later in the day.
“I think we get the weekend pass too which is nice,” said drummer David Matta.
Another perk of winning the battle was a paid gig with the Ryerson Students’ Union. Matta says the band hasn’t received much detail on what exactly it’s going to be, but they’re expecting that it’ll be a frosh event.
“We don’t know what to expect but we’re just going to go have fun,” said Matta. “It’s never not fun playing somewhere.” Love Wagon consists of saxophonist John Abou Chacra, keyboardist and vocalist Sam Ehsaei, bassist Michael Osztertag, drummer David Matta and guitarist Max Swiderski. Oszertag won the best performer award at the event.
Love Wagon’s been a part of the Ryerson music scene for a while, making regular appearances at M@R open mics. While they’re hitting a bigger stage this summer, the M@R scene is where things started for them.
“That is the community that helped bring us up,” said Matta. “And I know they were all rooting for us which is nice.”
For years, M@R has been at the centre of Ryerson’s music scene, especially since the school lacks a music program. But last February, dean of the faculty of communication and design Charles Falzon announced that Ryerson was developing a four-year program that would focus on the music industry.
Matta says the winning night for the band didn’t feel like anything too intense. Before playing, the band hung out, grabbing burritos before jamming with other bands in the gym of the Mattamy Athletic Centre, where the competition took place. They hope to maintain the same chill vibe going into the summer, not feeling any extra pressure about opening for big names and a bigger audience. Matta said they’re excited. “We’re just going to give people the same fun Love Wagon show.”