If you’re a fan of live music, you won’t want to miss the 10 acts playing at the YMCA’s inaugural Battle of the Bands (BoB) on Saturday, April 8.
The competition, which features middle and high school groups, is part of the Westchester Family YMCA’s strategic plan to focus on teens and their health and wellness by offering new opportunities for art, programs, events and leadership development where youth are empowered to make decisions and steer the activities.
“This event, which is doubling as a fundraiser, is going to provide an additional funding boost to the Y’s teen well-being programs,” says YMCA board member and BoB committee member Sylvia Wilson. “An example of one of the Y’s programs is the teen cohort groups. Every few weeks, the Y has been providing a place for teens to talk and have support. When you’re a teenager and you’re going through so much chaos and figuring out whom you want to be, what you want to do and what path you want to be on, having someone see you and hear you is really important.”
“The Y has been hyper-focused on teens because of the fallout from COVID and the issues of mental health that have been raised to the fore,” adds YMCA board member and BoB committee member John Sharpe. “After getting feedback from our teen members, we have been focused on how to engage the kids in a fun way that is not too heavily structured.”
Sharpe, a music lover who produces the Westchester Arts & Music Block Party and hosts a concert series at his home, knows firsthand how supportive the local community is when it comes to live music, so when brainstorming with the Y’s Executive Director John Loussararian about new programming for teens, they came up with the idea.
“Why not give the next generation of musicians a platform to showcase their art to the neighborhood?,” said Sharpe.
After a call for bands went out through the Y’s SoCal network, the inaugural battle ended up with bands made up of students from WISH, Venice High, El Segundo High School, Da Vinci, Culver City High School, and as far away as San Diego.
“We tried to cast a really wide net and reach out to all of our networks to find these remarkable bands,” said Wilson. “I’m really proud of how creative and talented they all are.”
Each group will be given 10 minutes to perform, and bands will be judged by past and present Youth & Government leaders that have a passion for music. The bands will be critiqued on originality, musicality and overall performance. The winning act will get the chance to play an encore performance and a $500 cash prize. So the audience can get in on the fun, there will also be a “People’s Choice Award” decided by the crowd.
“It’s going to be surprising to most folks how good the bands are,” said Sharpe. “Most bands will be playing original music, but there may be a few covers. There will be a variety of genres too, from grunge and indie to pop punk and psychedelic rock.”
The 2023 Battle of the Bands line-up includes (in order of performance):
• Inside Voices, Rock
• Wong Quadruplets, Pop/Rock
• Gore & Glamour, Psychedelic Rock
• Xen, Rock
• l!kewise, Pop/Indie
• Trueblood, Rock
• Under the Tree, Indie Rock
• Rooted, Pop/Rock
• Cherrypool, Grunge Rock
• Full Metal Jacket, Rock
“We invite the whole community to come out and see the bands and what’s happening at the Y,” said Sharpe. “We hope families will show up so the little kids can see older kids playing music, and they say, ‘Hey, I could do that!’”
The event is presented by the Drollinger Family Charitable Foundation with major sponsors AT&T, Westchester Rotary Club, Stephanie Younger Group, Hometown News and Westchester Pharmacy.
In the coming months, the Y will announce the opening of its new teen space just in time for its “Get Summer” program, which gives youth 12 to 18 free access to the Y from June through August. A mural project led by their teen task force and muralist David Russell is also underway and will see the Y’s brick facade transformed later this fall.
“We are so grateful for the Drollinger Family Charitable Foundation and all the major sponsors that are involved with this event and helping bolster our funding for programs that make sure our teens are seen and heard,” said Wilson. “The Battle of the Bands would not be possible without their support!”
Want to go?
The inaugural Battle of the Bands will take place on Saturday, April 8 from noon to 4 p.m. in the YMCA Annex parking lot, located at 8020 Alverstone Ave. in Westchester. Bring a chair to enjoy the tunes and check out food vendors Hapa Meals, Papa John’s Westchester and Watts Waffles.