Battle of the Bands

The Laundry Basket Escape Plan

Evon Hung, Asst. Web Editor

This week during lunch, rock bands and musical ensembles are vigorously battling it out for the chance to place as a Battle of the Bands finalist, ultimately competing for the paramount prize: the Championship Trophy. The winning group will receive campus-wide recognition and the chance to perform in the last rally of the year. Before the battle heats up and the judges’ adjudications decree the finale, the musicians shared their intentions for the event last week.

As a two-time winner of the Battle of the Bands and finalist in 2013, The Symptom contends for the championship for its fourth and last time. The band comprised of seniors Richard Martinez as tenor vocalist, Jesse Medrano as lead electric guitarist, Howard Chu as bassist, and Heywood Chu as drummer, will introduce a new member to the mix, sophomore Austin Anderson as second guitarist.

The quintet was inspired by Black Sabbath’s “The Symptom of the Universe,” a record that focuses on social disorder and the world’s tragic events. The Symptom adopted and reflected those ideas through its own original songs focused on social issues. The band that emerged in 2009 has evolved its tastes and skills.

Known for their repertoire of original songs, the members also exhibit a characteristic dark tone and an expertise in the heavy metal spectrum of music: classic rock and roll, black metal, and 1970s and 1980s rock metal styles. Equipped with its prowess, “The Symptom” has played at Downtown Disney, performed at the House of Blues, and played at Hollywood.

The band anticipates performing their newest song, “Through the Night,” the first original written with its newest member. What’s more, “The Symptom” hopes to make their last year in the Battle of the Bands memorable.

“[The other bands] are very talented musicians; I wish them nothing but all the best. I just hope for everyone to get together, play music, and have fun and enjoy each other because that’s what it’s really about: to showcase the talent of DBHS and what we have to offer,” Heywood Chu said.

Inspired by a sticky situation and a particular piece of furniture, band members of The Laundry Basket Escape Plan will perform for the second time this year to entertain – the first performance being “Monks” by Frank Ocean and “Contact High “ by Allen Stone at Apollo Night. The band includes juniors Aaron Kerestes and Evan Landi on the drums, Kevin Schmitt and senior Noah Skidgel playing the guitars, and senior Marquis President, Alex Silva, as the singer. After experimenting with tunes from Ocean and Stone, “The Laundry Basket Escape Plan” is attempting a reggae-revolution approach and aims to write and perform an original song. With no particular expectations, the members plan to have fun and to bond through this experience.

Back in middle school, Aaron Kerestes and Anthony Vasquez casually jammed together in hopes of creating a band. Four years later, the boys now proudly play in Matsunaenae and have acquired a list of achievements, one of which includes performing for Diamond Bar High School events, such as football games and parent orientations, on a regular basis. The ensemble is composed of sophomore Madison Landi as the vocalist, junior Vasquez on the drums, and junior Kerestes, senior Noah Skidgel, and sophomore Darryl Matsune on the guitars.

Matsunaenae first launched under the guitar store, “Fret House,” in West Covina; from there, the ensemble proceeded to win first place at a Battle of the Bands in Glendora and has played three gigs with a Led Zeppelin tribute band at The Grove in Anaheim. The band also boasts a wide range of musical repertoire, from Janis Joplin to Tool, and is especially known for its rendition of Black Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell.” Having participated in Battle of the Bands for the third time in a row and having placed as a finalist last year, Matsunaeae is utilizing its past experiences to choose an appealing song for its audience.

“We want to pick something that’s catchy but shows technicality in the music—something that’s not really [a song] you can pick up and learn in a couple hours: something that takes time,” guitarist junior Aaron Kerestes said.

While it aims to have fun, this exclusively all senior band is set on owning the competition and winning the prize. The ensemble includes drummer Ryan Low, guitarist Ariana Infante, bassist Jennifer King, and vocalists Norbert Tsi, Marcus Phung, and Phillip Lee. Previously known as the Black Diamonds, Low and Lee recreated their band to gain an upper hand at competing against its rivals.

“Last year, we were just having fun [but] I decided to take it a little more serious. We’re working as best as we can to win the competition,” Lee said.

While each member has his or her own acclaim as a solo musician—the group itself poses a rookie status. Against veterans of the Battle of the Bands, such as The Symptom and Matsune, The Phorbiden Phunguyz is determined to claim victory in the competitive environment with its covers of “Wake” by Young and Free Hillsong and “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars. Moreover, the band hopes to indulge in its passion: performing.

“It’s the best feeling in the world. You get to gather people around and you perform what you can – make them smile, scream, laugh. You want to show off to the world what you’re made of,” Lee said.

For The Outro, performing in the Battle of the Bands will be this aspiring group of musicians’ debut.

Formed three months ago by juniors Andrew Kusmohadi on the drums, Ben Yoo on the bass, Ulf Wong on guitar, and Kristie Leung on the piano and vocals, the band have diligently practiced to hone their talents. Playing at the Battle of the Bands is the first step to publicizing the band’s name and providing the members stage experience.

The Outro focuses its energy on creating a fun, groovy vibe by covering Maroon 5’s “Sugar” and other works of the pop rock band. Ultimately, the prospect of winning the trophy signifies success and opportunities for The Outro, and bolsters each member’s ambitions.

“We’re just trying to make it work. We’re also all Christian and decided to form this band not only to do what we love but also for the glory of God. For Battle of the Bands, [we would] like to get our name out there and just have a good time,” Leung said.

To end their senior year with a bang, ex-USB members Yasi Hekmat and Jacqueline Aluning will take part in the Battle of the Bands as performers instead of planners. Accompanied by senior Noah Skidgel and junior Aaron Kerestes on the guitar and Anthony Vasquez on drums, the ensemble hopes to surprise the audience and judges with their rock band vibe approach.

The band plans to rock the stage with Paramore’s “That’s What You Get,” “Born for This” and For a Pessimist’s “Pretty Optimistic.” Having been in Marquis for three years, Aluning and Hekmat aspire to bond with the band members and collaborate ideas to create a chemistry that will radiate off the stage when performing.

“I hope to have fun performing with my band mates. It’s not every day that I get to perform and rock out in front of an audience,” Aluning said.