By Patrick Donachie
Enterprising bands from throughout the borough graced the stage of the Colden Auditorium at Queens College on July 14 for the Queens Library’s second annual “Battle of the Bands.” A fast-moving thunderstorm did not deter the excited crowd of family, friends and fans. More than 2,000 free tickets were distributed and by the time the first band hit the stage many seats were full.
“It’s really nice to be having a battle of the bands,” Queens Library President Dennis M. Walcott said in his introductory remarks. “These bands represent the best of the best.”
Ralph McDaniels, the Queens Library’s hip-hop coordinator and co-creator of Video Music Box was the emcee for the evening. The contest was open to bands of all different musical genres with members ranging in age from 13 to 22. Bands interested in participating sent in audition tracks and judges selected the seven bands that competed at the battle.
“I was surprised at how diverse the genres are,” said Kevin Matharu, the guitarist for the band Noise on 93rd. “It’s kind of exciting, because we usually do shows where it’s just one genre, but our most successful shows have been when there’s all types of bands.”
Matharu also enjoyed the dichotomy of a library known for peace and quiet contemplation also hosting a collection of raucous rock bands.
“Queens Library doing a battle of the bands?” he said. “The irony in this is just so good.”
The array of groups ranged from singers belting Adele’s “Hello” to punk bands skirting the limits of speed records and volume. The winner of the competition was Chiv Culture, headed by Akinyemi, who expertly worked the crowd as he wove powerful exciting rhymes into a musical backing provided by local band QNA, who said that they had only had one rehearsal to prepare for the event. Akinyemi mentioned that Chiv Culture gained traction after it played the song “Cupid” live on WNYC.
“Music is my life. I’ve been rapping since I was 10 years old,” he said, and mentioned that he hoped Chiv Culture would be releasing a record by late this year or early next year.
As he waited backstage to introduce the next act, McDaniels spoke about his work at the library and the preparation that went into the competition. He said he hoped that the Battle of the Bands would inspire new bands to form in the borough.
“It’s easier to book a DJ now, so the fact that we’re doing this is kind of like a throwback,” he said. “I think with the young people, their musical tastes are all over the place. And their tastes mean that they can play anything.”
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona