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A Battle of Hits

A Battle of HitsEvery year, Tufts bands vie in the Battle of the Bands for the opportunity to share the stage with national acts at Spring Fling.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [05.08.09] Every year, national acts come to campus to perform at Spring Fling. But each spring, one Tufts band gets to share the spotlight with the chart-toppers.

The Tufts performers at Spring Fling, held this year on Apr. 25, are determined by the annual Battle of the Bands competition, held three weeks before the annual semester-ending spring event. This year's winner was The Ride, which formed in the fall of 2007 when most of the members were freshmen.

The band, which draws influence from jazz, blues, funk and hip-hop, includes vocalist Cal Shapiro (A'10), bassist Evan West (A'12), sax players Alex Hoffman (A'11) and Zach Meyer (E'11), guitarist Justin Binder (E'11), trumpeter Aaron Cannon (A'11) and drummer Rob Resnick (A'11). Shapiro, Hoffman and Resnick are music majors.

Watch a recap of the Battle of the Bands competition:



"That was an incredible moment for the band," Cannon recalls of their Battle of the Bands victory. "I [had] just won a spot in the biggest musical performance so far in my life. It was very surreal."

The reward of playing at Spring Fling is no small prize. One of if not the largest student-organized event on the campus calendar, the annual event debuted in 1980 and has since drawn national performers such as Busta Rhymes, the Roots, Less Than Jake and Tufts graduates Guster to the Hill. This year's lineup featured hip-hop artist Asher Roth, nautical-themed indie rockers the Decemberists and rap star Ludacris.

Last year, The Ride won second place in Battle of the Bands. So this spring, they were hungry for victory and a place on the Spring Fling stage. A new bassist, hours of practice and steady improvement would, the band hoped, be its recipe for success.

"We're a different band now than last year, but still The Ride and a lot better," says Cannon.

"We learned a lot having done it the previous year, with a whole year of experience," says guitarist Justin Binder. "Considering the prize, it's just awesome, being able to play in front of the school like that."

While no band is without creative tensions, the thrill of performing helps that melt away.

"When you perform and people love it, especially things like the Battle where you win something, we are very much brought together," says Cannon.

Photo gallery: Scenes from the Battle

In previous years, the Tufts act at Spring Fling opened for the national acts. This year, however, The Ride performed between sets, giving them greater exposure as the crowd grew throughout the day. Battle of the Bands runner-up Brennivín served as the opening act.

Leading up to their performance at Spring Fling, the band was nervous but threw themselves into rehearsals to prepare for the show. However, they weren't prepared for the feeling of performing on the largest stage of their short musical careers.

"Once we saw the stage for the first time, it was an incredible feeling, this entire stage that was ours for the whole day," says Cannon. "It's something that doesn't even seem that important, but when I've got plenty of room to go wherever I want, it's a really cool thing."

For Binder, the highlight of the day was before the show even started, as they set up and looked out at the empty lawn, picturing the fans that would soon fill the space.

And to the members of The Ride and other Tufts bands, the fans are what it's all about.

"The support the bands see from the Tufts community in general is amazing," says Alan Munkacsy (E'10), co-chair of the Concert Board organization that runs both Battle of the Bands and Spring Fling.

"Once hundreds of people are watching you and every note you play and move you make," says Cannon, "it's impossible not to have a great time."

Profile by Georgiana Cohen, Office of Web Communications. Photos by Joanie Tobin, University Photography

Video production by Arlin Ladue (A'11). Executive Produced by Office of Web Communications.

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