Fifteen West Michigan acts representing a cross-section of styles will compete on March Saturdays with the finals on March 25. Tickets are on sale now; view the lineup.
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Boasting “more diversity of genre and background” amid the lineup, Grand Rapids’ The Stray launches its second annual “Battle of the Bands” with 15 West Michigan acts duking it out musically starting March 4.
Bands and solo artists from Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and northern Michigan will vie for a $500 grand prize, with the finals taking place on March 25. The second-place band will receive $300, with $200 for third place.
“Our curation goal was to present a cross-section of the music scene in West Michigan – from jazz-rock fusion to funk to country to R&B, rap and hip hop,” said Hunter VanKlompenberg, music and arts manager for the café at 4253 S. Division Ave. in Grand Rapids.
“Our overall mission for this event has less to do with determining who the best local band is, and more with creating opportunities for networking, exposure and professional growth for emerging artists. In this light, a broader representation of the genres present in West Michigan is the approach we want to take.”
Silver Creek Revival, Ja’Leeyna, Sean Stynes, Ethereal and Pocket Watch will kick off the first night of the competition, playing 20 minute sets judged by Yolonda Lavender of Kalamazoo’s Soul Artistry LLC.
Common Molly, Adrian Wright, Rabbit Fur, Van Tassel’s Uncanny Elixir and Short Panic perform on March 11, with Local Spins publisher John Sinkevics serving as the judge.
And finally, Feeding Grizzlies, Maliq Jordan, Odd Space, Jon Hayes and Cordero wrap up the third week of the contest on March 18, with judge Shelby Schneider of WYCE and GRTV.
Robby Fischer of Grand Rapids’ Dogtown Studio will serve as the judge for the finals.
World music trio Whorled won the inaugural 2022 competition, which VanKlompenberg called “an experiment in many ways” that attracted lots of “positive feedback.”
With more bands competing for more lucrative cash prizes, this year’s Battle of the Bands will also charge a $5 ticket fee for attendees. Tickets went on sale Wednesday and are available online here.
All bands and artists who don’t move on to the finals will receive a $50 stipend.
“It’s tricky to set a five-piece rock band against a solo artist in a music competition, but we’re hoping it makes for a very dynamic and inclusive show,” VanKlompenberg said, who thanked the judges, Lady Ace Boogie, Andrea Wallace and OPNR and other organizations for spreading the word.
“We want bands to put forth their best, and expect to see fierce, friendly competition, but community and mutual growth are our ultimate goals. We believe the connections and future opportunities made at events like this can be worth even more for an artist’s career than the prize money or bragging rights.”
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