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The Student Media Site of Georgia College & State University

Bobcat Multimedia

The Student Media Site of Georgia College & State University

Bobcat Multimedia

Battle of the Bobcats

Three bands, one night and my thoughts as a judge.
Hannah Gilleon
Subject to Change | Courtesy of Hannah Gilleon

I was given the opportunity to be a judge for the annual Battle of the Bobcats this year. Last Thursday, I spent my evening listening to three bands play their hearts out for the opportunity to be the opener for the spring Homecoming concert.

Each year, the Campus Activities Board, or CAB, puts on the Battle of the Bobcats. Bands can sign up to participate, and a panel of judges watches these performances and decides which group did the best job. Each year, the victor gets the opportunity to play at the homecoming concert as the opening act. This year, the winner will be opening for Quavo and The Stews on March 8!

This was my first time attending the Battle of the Bobcats. I am so grateful that CAB asked me to take part, and I sat alongside three others: Dr. Dan Nadler, GC’s Interim Vice President of Student Life; Anslee Temples, CAB Outreach Coordinator; and Kylie Gregg, CAB Hospitality Coordinator. 

Admission is free for all GC students, but unfortunately, I had not been to this event before — a decision I greatly regret, as this is my last homecoming as a GC student. I was blown away by the talent, variety and work that each and every band member exhibited on that stage.

Three bands competed this year: Avant Garde, Chief and Subject to Change. In that order, the three groups took the stage, each exhibiting something unique and different. Here are my thoughts on each performance.

First up was Avant Garde. For those unfamiliar, the Oxford English Dictionary defines “avant garde” as “the pioneers or innovators in any art in a particular period.” Essentially, Avant Garde aims to be experimental, unusual and unique, and I can attest that their performance lived up to their name. 

Avant Garde was also the smallest group that night — in quantity but not presence. The two members, Tommy Creekmore as pianist and Daniel Hastings on vocals, took the stage and shocked the crowd. With Creekmore playing skillfully, Hastings took to the microphone in what I can only describe as an aggressive form of slam poetry that left me taken aback. The two styles – Creekmore playing carefully and impressively while Hastings hoarsely delivered his work – seem so different yet complement one another quite well. 

It was an interesting but not at all bad mix of sounds, and I mean to deliver that as a compliment because I believe this to be precisely their intent. Neither seemed to outshine the other in performance or presence, and the audience responded to this unique performance with nothing short of interest, excitement and rapt attention — particularly when Creekmore and Hastings pulled out blindfolds and continued to skillfully deliver while lacking a key sense.

“I think it would be, to be honest, a little fun to have an act like ours open for an artist like Quavo,” Hastings said. “If we win, that would be — Georgia College would — I have no idea what would even happen, to be honest.”

“It would certainly be exposing a lot of people to some much more experimental music than they’re used to,” Creekmore said.

After watching Avant Garde perform, I cannot help but agree with this assessment. Frankly, their style of music is not my personal preference, but I will always give credit where credit is due and can attest that it was an amazing representation of a niche style that, as Creekmore said, most GC students are not used to. Personal music tastes aside, I enjoyed this exposure and think Hastings and Creekmore kicked off the Battle of the Bobcats spectacularly.

The next performance was Chief, a local group that has performed around Milledgeville at house parties and is what I would consider a semi-well-known group around GC. 

“We really want Quavo, so we’re going to do whatever it takes to get Quavo,” said Dylan Shelnutt, drummer.

This performance was very well put together, and vocalist James Carter brought strong stage presence, dancing and moving throughout the whole set. Chief kicked off their show with a cover of “Take Me Out” by Franz Ferdinand, which instantly set a fun and party-like tone for their group.

My biggest observation of Chief is how much fun they were having. The camaraderie on that stage was visible, and every member of the group genuinely seemed to be having a blast. If you have the opportunity to catch a Chief concert in the future, I recommend going because if it is anything like their Battle of the Bobcats performance, you are going to have a great time.

I spoke with Chief before their performance, and I asked them a question I asked every group: What do you think is your greatest strength as a band, particularly compared to your competitors? Chief’s energy throughout their interview was very much like that of their performance, which is full of brotherly camaraderie and fun, as evident in Carter’s response, where he instantly named their guitarist.

“Mason Wiley,” Carter said. “Mason is also the drummer for Andalusia, so he brings some experience for playing harder stuff like this as opposed to just house shows and frats and what we normally do. I feel like we all get along really well and, like, money aside and music aside, we just have a good time together, and it sounds kind of corny, but we bring charisma.”

After Chief’s set, I was left with one simple but important note: Their performance made me happy. I like their energy, their music selection and the environment their set created in Magnolia Ballroom. 

The third and final group that took to the stage was Subject to Change, who also happens to be the winner of Battle of the Bobcats, meaning they will open for Quavo and The Stews next month. Avant Garde was intriguing, and Chief was fun, but in my personal opinion, Subject to Change stole the show.

Subject to Change is a more alternative rock group than either of their predecessors, and they played what I call “headbangers” (and yes, there was literal headbanging happening around the room). I loved it instantly.

Their performance embodied speeding ticket music. Speeding ticket music is any song that, if played in the war while I’m driving, practically guarantees that I will earn myself a much-deserved speeding ticket before the song ends. They played four songs: “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zepplin, “Everlong” by Foo Fighters, “No Rain” by Blind Melon (which was my personal favorite track of their performance) and ended with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana.

The room could not help but dance. The performance enveloped precisely what I felt a Homecoming opener should be: high energy, recognizable songs and a band that plays with a fervor that seems almost painful. If you have ever seen the Muppets’ Animal on the drums, trust that he would fit in perfectly with Subject to Change, not that they are in need of a drummer, as Devin Robinson’s effort and energy would make Animal proud.

Alongside Robinson, Subject to Change had Andre Molina on bass, Nick Conzett on guitar and Sam Daly singing, all of whom deserve recognition for a performance that took each of them to pull off.

“I think that our biggest strength is that we have a really good way of just having fun while we’re up there,” Robinson said. “It’s really hard for us to not have a good time.” 

Regardless of who won and who did not, this sentiment of excitement and enjoyment was a commonality between all three groups. Each band supported and congratulated one another throughout and after their sets, and the entire environment was one of healthy competition rooted in sharing what we all love: music. If you have never been to a Battle of the Bobcats, you really ought to make it for next year’s Homecoming, and go see Subject to Change open for Quavo and The Stews on March 8 in the Centennial Center!

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