The first decade of Naperville Park District’s Battle of the Bands has been good, and the second decade looks to be even better.
Contestants in the 11th annual Battle of the Bands begin rocking 4 p.m. Friday, May 9, at the Community Concert Center in Central Park. This year, eight groups representing all five area high schools will take part.
The event has become so popular that the judges are hard pressed to limit the contestants to the usual eight or 10 slots.
“We are outside the norm of other local communities and their band battles,” Fred Gusel, Park District program manager, said.
He noted that while other communities struggled along with relatively few bands applying for local competitions, Naperville’s always had 20 to 25 groups eager to show off their talent, and stressed that this year is no different.
“We have more than we can handle,” Gusel said.
The program is coordinated by Gusel and the Naperville Park District’s Youth Ambassadors Program, whose representatives will partner with Gusel and other judges to determine which bands get picked.
Each group submits an application and a demo recording and the bands chosen were rewarded strictly on the basis of talent level, not musical genre.
“Everybody likes something different,” Gusel said.
While teenage rockers have been battling each other in band battles since at least the early 1960s, Naperville came late to the concept to solve an old problem: finding activities for teenagers.
The Park District is well aware that teenagers occupy that gray area between childhood and adult status that proves so challenging to community leaders looking to supply them with activities.
“It’s a hard area to program,” Gusel said, explaining the rationale behind programming an activity that is usually a sure bet to appeal to high school students.
The winner will be invited to preform at Ribfest and will advance to the Illinois Park District Association’s Regional Battle of the Bands and have a chance to perform at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield.
The second and third place finishers will perform at the Park District’s Rollin’ on the River series this summer.
The lineup for the Battle of the Bands will be: Bluefish Movement, Neuqua Valley, 4 p.m.; Evil Never Dies, Metea Valley, 4:25 p.m.; Burn Out, Naperville Central, 4:50 p.m.; Tipsters, Neuqua Valley, 5:15 p.m.; Delta Sons, Waubonsie Valley, 5:40 p.m.; Dead Yet Alive, Naperville North, 6:10 p.m.; Where it Starts, Neuqua Valley, 6:35 p.m.; and My Last Obsession, Naperville North, 7 p.m.
After the last performance, the winners will be announced.
The event is free to the public.