After eight and half hours of pounding drums, wailing guitars, crooning vocals and the occasional f-bomb, The Noms and Zagadka emerged the victors of the UNM Battle of the Bands on Sunday in the SUB.
The Noms, a five-membered pop acoustic group, sealed its victory with three sets of voices that got the audience on its feet clapping and dancing.
“It’s always nice to know there’s a common ground and that you’re providing that common ground,” said bass player Greg Pisotti.
The band consists of Pisotti, vocalists and guitarists Mike Mares and Michelle Baumann, bongo and percussions player and vocalist Jesse Herrera and keyboard player Josh Herrera.
Judge Dan Lewis, manager of Warehouse 508, said the band crafted a harmony setting it apart.
“They’re one of the only bands that didn’t have a drummer up on stage,” Lewis said. “All they had was the bongos, and I think they proved they really don’t even need the drummer to get the rhythm going … What really stood out about them was the vocal harmonies, just amazing.”
Zagadka wowed the audience and judges with a dynamic rock sound, thanks to seven years of playing together.
“Playing with these guys so long together, just the three of us, has been amazing,” said Adam Abeyta, lead singer and guitarist. “We definitely can feel each other out a lot quicker than we use to be able to just because we’ve been playing so long.”
Zagadka consists of Abeyta, bassist Matt Garcia and drummer Jameson Ray.
Lewis said he has enjoyed the band’s individualist sound throughout its career.
“It’s totally a unique path that I don’t feel like a lot (of) other bands national or local are really taking it in,” he said. “It’s been really cool to watch the band over the past four or five years develop and watch their sound change and watch them grow as musicians and people.”
The bands were judged on five categories: planning and preparedness, audience response, stage presence, originality and quality of performance.
Nipping at the heels of the winning bands were the pirate-gospel-doom-saloon darlings of Albuquerque, Eva Ave. & Carlosaur, half of which is Eva Dameron, the Daily Lobo’s editor-in-chief. They entranced the audience with ascending and dipping vocals over electric pianos, foot drums and accordion.
Coming in behind Eva Ave. & Carlosaur was long-time participant and foul-mouthed solo acoustic singer Sam Irons. Irons kicked off the show by shouting obscenities into the audience. One of his songs was all about ejaculating into his shorts, and another was titled, “I want to hate fuck your cunt.” Still, the artist’s acoustic talent shone, and occasional sincere and touching lines surprised the audience more than any profanity he dropped.
“There’s a great quote from a book I’m reading, ‘A Small Treatise on Great Virtues,’ Irons said.
“It’s ‘It’s better to be too honest to be polite than too polite to be honest.’ You know all the things I say I mean.”
In fourth place was Arroyo Deathmatch, a five-person band consisting of a flute, cello, accordion, ukulele and guitars. The band ditched the sound system, and opted to play in the crowd instead of on stage. Further, the group’s punk-folk sound got the audience dancing for the first time in the day.
“They really made it their own show, and for that I really scored them high on their stage presence,” Lewis said. “Their stage presence was so powerful they didn’t even need a stage.”
Other stand-outs from the day include “Music is the Enemy,” a post-punk hardcore band that captured the audience’s attention with lead singer Miles B’s onstage antics. All throughout the act he spat Gatorade and swung the microphone in wide arcs.
“They’re a little bit of a different genre, and it’s more of an acquired taste, but they really brought the stage presence if nothing else,” Lewis said. “They were energetic up there, having a good time.”
Last year’s second place finishers and this year’s only ska band, Made in Bangladesh, started its set strong with a brass combo of trumpet and trombone. The guitar solos of Claudio Perez especially stood out along with the energy of Sean Ward’s vocal performance.
Another strong act, “Willy J and the Storytellers,” featured the day’s first melodic base reminiscent of Coldplay and R.E.M. The band stood apart thanks to its storytelling, particularly the tale of freight-hopping across trains to Santa Fe.
Lewis said he wants to congratulate all the bands on their performances throughout out the day, and remind everyone Battle of the Bands is about the music.
“The ultimate goal is to showcase all of UNM’s best and brightest musicians,” he said. “It’s to really create a solid music community.”
*Daily Lobo: So where does the name Zagadka come from then?
Adam Abeyta: Have you read “2010: A Space Odyssey 2?”… *