The band formed by Grand Rapids Community College music students outpolled West Michigan’s CORDERO and Pocket Watch during Saturday’s finals to take home the crown. Photos, video.
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With a killer saxophone vibe and dance-fueled energy, West Michigan’s Short Panic won Saturday’s finals of the month-long, 2023 Battle of the Bands staged in front of a capacity crowd at The Stray in Grand Rapids.
The win came after impressive sets by the other finalists — rock/pop’s CORDERO and the jazzy Pocket Watch — and earned Short Panic the $500 grand prize. Cordero took home $300 for second, with Pocket Watch receiving $200 for third.
“It feels a bit surreal ’cause of the level of talent that we were able to play against,” Short Panic saxophonist Joe Schimmelman said afterward.
Indeed, the talent so impressed the evening’s judge, Robby Fischer of Grand Rapids’ Dogtown Studio, that he offered each of the finalists 50 percent off of a session at Dogtown.
Local Spins’ Chelsea Whitaker offered these takes on Saturday’s sets:
• CORDERO pulled out all the stops, with a high energy and engaging set, ending with a standing ovation.
• Pocket Watch — a super-group of area musicians — brought the groove with a highly technical set, giving jazz a new flair by adding synth and a violin.
• Short Panic was groovy, dancy and totally unique in its sound, with a killer saxophone taking them to the next level.
Members of the winning funk-rock band Short Panic gave a shoutout to Grand Rapids Community College where they met as students, with a specific nod to award-winning music instructor Michael Michewicz.
Drummer Kyle Kuhn also credited the region’s music scene and The Stray.
“Shoutout to people supporting local music and The Stray being a good place for that to heppen,” he said. “Such a good support system. I’ve met only good people (in Grand Rapids’ music scene).”
(For its win, Short Panic also received an advertising/promotion package from Local Spins.)
“My main takeaway from the finals is that you don’t have to fit into one specific niche or groove to win an event like this. The crowd was a mixed bag of people with different tastes and expectations, but all of the bands were well-received and the music was infectious,” said Hunter VanKlompenberg, music and arts manager for The Stray.
“Overall this year we saw many artists from different genres — that may not typically be booked together — sharing a stage.”
PHOTO GALLERY: The Stray Battle of the Bands Finals (3/25/23)
Short Panic, CORDERO, Pocket Watch at The Stray
Photos by Chelsea Whitaker
VIDEO: The Stray Battle 2023 Finals Highlights
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