Vincent Ta/ Highlander
Vincent Ta/ Highlander

The Barn hosted ASPB’s Soundclash competition where performers went head-to-head to win a spot for a spring Nooner performance at the Bell Tower with a $250 cash prize. Along with student performances, ASPB also unveiled the lineup for Winter SOULstice which will be held at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium on Feb.18 this year. Students began pouring into the venue, filling up the rows of plastic chairs while the artists set up their own instruments. I entered with warm welcomes from ASPB members and high hopes for the performances as well as the Winter SOULstice lineup. The Barn slowly filled with a crowd full of eager friends and family anticipating their fellow performers.

To begin, the competition consisted of a panel of judges including Student Organization Advisor Gerry Medina, ASPB Advisor Adrian Cazares and ASPB Director of Films and Lectures Ria Madon, who were stationed behind the audience. They were to judge performers based on four main qualities: presentation, balance, originality and organization.

First up were The Major Keys, an indie-pop style band previously known as The Messengers. After the ASPB host introduced them onstage, the lights dimmed on center stage with the three-member group becoming the main focus. The band appeared very eager to have their music showcased at the Soundclash event. They quickly introduced their first song and surprised the audience with their up-tempo beat and bittersweet melodies. The band’s Beach Boys-sound played a heavy role in creating a fun and carefree atmosphere for the crowd. Scanning through the rows of seats, you could see most of the audience members nodding their heads and tapping their feet to the enticing beats. The Major Keys played all original songs, two of which were called, “There’ll Be a Place,” and “A Chance With Me.” By the looks of everyone’s reactions and uproar, the band’s chemistry and distinctive quality truly impressed the audience. It seemed like a promising start to the event.

Following The Major Keys were Rhythm and Brains student performers Margarita Rodriguez, Sam Painter and Ethan Chen. Rodriguez passionately sang, “Seven Years” by Lukas Graham with her powerhouse soulful vocals reaching out to the far ends of the Barn venue. Her grandiose emotions and power took over the stage harmoniously with the sweet tunes of the piano and uplifting beatboxing by accompanist Chen. The group finished up with crowd favorite “Yellow” by Coldplay. The mixture of the intense drums and dominating vocals collectively created an intense, emotional performance.

Next up was popular favorite The Lazy Camper or Alex Le who appeared on stage with a guitar and DJ set. He astonishingly began his set with a soft vocal number while playing guitar. However, he then dropped an intense beat and the crowd cheered wildly for his fast-paced electronic style. His intricate contrasts and intoxicating beats involved various electronic and house mixes that I’ve never heard of or thought to put together. Regardless of how the competition may turn out it was clear The Lazy Camper had the most fun on stage.

The second-to-last performer was Nick Carrillo who began creating an onset of laughter with his original song called, “Netflix and Chill.” Despite the hilarious concept, his performance was beautifully executed and brought a cheerful mood to the atmosphere. Succeeding, Carrillo brought up old memories while singing “Sugar, We’re Goin Down,” by Fall Out Boys. The entire audience happily sang along and was drawn to the emotions put into his last original song, “Bae.” His memorable stage presence and charisma brought on a promising stage performance.

Lastly was performer Veronica Layos carrying out recent popular songs, “Here” by Alessia Cara and “Pillow Talk” by Zayn Malik. Her uniquely acoustic soul voice fit perfectly with her song choices. I was excited to hear these songs in particular, especially with her voice. She ended her set with an original song called, “Know You Better,” which was the best way to end the competition.

After the judges’ calculations, Layos and The Lazy Camper were announced as a tie for first, splitting the spring Nooner time slot and cash prize. As the competition concluded, ASPB finally revealed the lineup for Winter SOULstice through a creatively designed video. Everyone patiently sat to listen for the long-awaited lineup, revealed to be Doja Cat, Kelela and The Dream. In all, Soundclash was a successful event that ran smoothly and consisted of many talented UCR performers.
Krishna Parekh is the president of UCR club Rhythm and Brains.