The closer 7 o’clock rolled in the faster TDU filled with students eager to hear the bands play in this year’s Spotlight Series: Rumble Down Under. The two hour battle of the bands extravaganza determines who will receive the opportunity to open for Madipalooza and have a song produced, recorded, and distributed by record label, Blues Bracket Sound. Lights dimmed after the sound check finished and the background chatter of a full TDU cut off, from the left side of the room a girl shushed her friend with a frantic, “They’re starting!” and Rumble Down Under began.
The first band called Travelers opened up the show with an original song called “River”. Excited band lovers gathered at the base of the stage to cheer and dance with many students head banging while the judges watched the first performance, writing notes every few minutes. Travelers finished off their four song set with one last guitar solo and a rousing round of applause.
Caulfield, the second band of the night, filled the dance floor with members of other bands and student audience members alike. The dance floor filled with members from the other bands, UPB students and fist bumping JMU students. With an almost Beach Boys do punk rock sound Caulfield was a clear, early, crowd favorite.
Junior health sciences major Mikayla Comer said, “My favorite band so far is the second one, Caulfield! I can’t wait to see who wins!”
Comer sat with her friend Erin Butler, a junior IDLS major who also happens to be a UPB member. The two friends are frequent UPB event attendees, but both agree that Rumble Down Under is one of the most exciting events UPB hosts.
“It’s a cool way to see local bands and I really want to see who wins and will play at Madipalooza,” Butler said.
With a brief intermission to allow the next band, Latin For Beginners, to set up, the last half of Rumble Down Under began to a thunderclap of applause. The band had a bass saxophone, tenor sax, two trombones and a trumpet to accompany them through their set. In their third song a trumpet solo wowed the crowd into the loudest round of the applause of the night. A strong jazz-rock feel led Latin for Beginners into the end of their set and they left the stage with many students getting up to vote for them as their favorite band.
The last band of the night Madly Backwards took the stage and started their set with a song called Groundhog and an invitation to groove. With the only drum solo of the night Madly Backwards inspired the remaining students to go up and dance Woodstock style. They finished off the night with what appeared to be the most popular song yet.
Collen Bordivk a senior studio art major and the girlfriend to Madly Backwards’ lead singer voiced her confidence in Madly Backwards’ ability to win.
“Rumble Down Under is one of my favorite UPB events and its really great to see JMU bands play, but I one hundred percent think that Madly Backwards will win tonight!”
With one last round of student voting, the judges left to deliberate on who is going to win this year’s Rumble Down Under. Many of the students and band members anxiously waited at the bottom of the stage to hear the winner of the battle of the bands. When the UPB MC took the stage with the folded paper that had the winner written inside, the crowd greeted her with cheers.
“Do you want to know who won?” The MC yelled out. She was answered with more applause and happy screaming.
“And the winner of this year’s Rumble Down Under is…” She unfolded the paper and announced, “Caulfield!” as this year’s winner!
Congratulations to all the bands that competed and special congratulations to Caulfield for winning the opening spot at Madipalooza and the recording deal at Blues Bracket Sound!