Students compete for $500 prize at Battle of the Bands

Joya Breems—Staff Writer

At 9:00 p.m., students filtered into the B.J. Haan Auditorium, chatting and laughing. While the auditorium typically sits empty and silent on Saturday nights, Dordt Student Activities had hung lights, and blared pop music containing lyrics likely unapproved by the building’s namesake.

Every year, Dordt University hosts a battle of the bands competition where students can showcase their musical skills for a $500 prize. Normally, NC/DC, a sing-off between Dordt and Northwestern College, is held. This year, a lack of interest from Northwestern led Dordt hold the competition themselves

At Battle of the Bands, six groups performed VeggieTales songs, original compositions, Justin Bieber hits, and more. The audience shrieked and clapped with delight.

Throughout the night, hosts Drew DeVries and Reagan Syverson showed MTV Cribs-style videos of the judge’s houses.

DeVries told Valorie Zonnefeld, a math professor and judge, to make hers “cringy.”

“I think we achieved that,” Zonnefeld said.

Five of Us, the winning team, received a standing ovation. The group comprised of members Siena Rose, Antonio Maldonado, Emma McGaughey, Ivanna Harsono, and Abraham Vasquez.

Originally, Rose, Harsono, and Maldonado planned to represent their cultural background and compete under the name of Two Indonesians and a Honduran, but their first practice flopped. 

“It sounded empty,” said Maldonado, who played guitar. 

Photo Credit: Emma McGaughey

Several weeks before the show, the group added McGaughey on saxophone, and Vasquez on drums. Rose, Harsono, and Maldonado had picked “Just the Two of Us” by Grover Washington to sing and decided to name their group accordingly. 

“We hit it off because we listened well to each other.” Said, Rose.

The band members wore sunglasses, which they threw off halfway through the song.

“We practiced a lot, so when we performed, it felt short,” Rose said.

When The Five of Us were announced as the first-place winner, Maldonado wasn’t surprised. He had been gauging the audience’s reactions throughout the night, though runner-up After Dark left him worried.

Maldonado had competed in and won NC/DC several years prior. For Maldonado, the multiple performances of NC/DC required more work. He estimates he put in thirty hours of practice and performance in contrast to the ten hours the  Five of Us practiced.

Maldonado has heard rumors that NC/DC is over for good. 

“This is the most popular event of the entire year.” Maldonado said.

“Activities such as Battle of the Bands are crucial for Dordt as they build campus culture and give students something to do that is both free and not as prevalent in a smaller town.” Zonnefeld said.

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