With the sounds of lively guitar riffs and the smells of sizzling tacos from El Ojo Del Agua permeating the air, students sat in the HUB plaza in anticipation of Soundclash, the premiere music competition on campus hosted by ASPB.
The judges panel consisted of Budget Personnel and Program Assistant for the HUB Denise Cisneros, former ASPB Director Donna Dunn and former Talent Buyer and Concerts Coordinator for ASBP Herbert Phan. Throughout the event, they rated and determined which band would have the opportunity to perform during ASPB’s Spring Nooners.
First on stage was Blueseason, a quartet of students characterized by their funky tunes and blues and jazz inspired music. From releasing their debut E.P. “Knock on Wood” in April of last year to performing throughout Riverside, Blueseason has experience with performing live as well as with recording in the studio. With saxophone and guitar solos scattered throughout their performance, Blueseason was able to traverse a wide range of emotions and genre-blending. Students gathered around the stage area, pulling in closer toward the performers after each song. Their songs were rhythmically similar and were performed within the same chordal range, so there could have been more diversity in their musical technique. However, with the darker and melancholy sound of blues music fusing with the rich harmonies of jazz, the group was able to engage the crowd with their unique sound.
Giovanni Lombardi, better known as Vonni, was the next performer. Mainly present on Soundcloud, he first began releasing singles about a year ago. Vonni, a solo hip-hop artist, can be distinguished by his usage of sampledelia, rhythmic vocals and deep bass. Students gathered around the stage area as he performed, chanting his name as he rapped and hyped up the crowd. With his riveting rapping technique and poetic background tracks, Vonni engaged the crowd with his high production value, dark beats and smooth flow. Though his overall performance was well-done, he was performing with a vocal background, restricting his ability to freestyle sections and fulfill his artistic potential.
Transitioning from hip-hop, the crowd was greeted by Amara, a solo female artist. Amara takes inspiration from rhythm and blues (R&B) and soul music which is evident in her debut album “Too Far to Be Close,” which she released in December of 2019 on Soundcloud. With light samples, a consistent rhythm and simple beats, she captured the audience’s attention and kept them in a musical trance. However, as her set continued, many crowd members became slightly disengaged. Vocally, she maintained a constant and monotonous tone, leaving out musical variation. As well as that, her pitch tended to dip slightly as her set continued. Overall, however, her flow was constant, she stayed on tempo and audience members paid close attention to each lyric she sang and each bar she rapped.
G. Bautista, the next group, brought along inspiration from funk, soul, jazz and traditional R&B. Born and raised in San Jose, California, Gabe Bautista, an up-and-coming vocalist, has produced and released music on his Spotify account since 2017. Performing with a musical accompaniment, the rhythmic booming of drums, tied together by harmonious guitar solos, jazzy saxophone improvisations and chord progressions, proved to be the embodiment of funk, soul and R&B fusion. The crowd was bewitched by the lead singer’s falsettos and complicated saxophone solos and students were drawn closer to the stage as the set progressed. The musical balance was slightly off, with the lyrics and vocalists difficult to hear over the instrumental backing. However, G. Bautista had an incredibly strong presence on stage, and the set was thoroughly enjoyed by the crowd.
The last performance of the night, Delfino Squared, was highly anticipated. With the screams of fans filling the air, Delfino Squared brought forth catchy and ethereal guitar riffs, followed by smooth vocals and the rhythmic beating of drums. The band is experienced in live performances, as they’ve performed at The Mint in Los Angeles and live shows in Riverside; additionally, Delfino Squared has experience with studio recording, as they released their debut E.P “Sirena Sunset” in September of 2019 on Spotify and YouTube. With the band name inspired by Isle Delfino from Super Mario Sunshine, the band embodied the euphoria of childhood memories with their upbeat sound. Gaining inspiration from indie, alternative rock and soft pop, the group had the crowd infatuated by their melodic tunes and soft vocals. Occasionally during the set, there was a sound imbalance between the vocals and the instrumental backing due to the vocalist standing in close proximity to the microphone when singing high notes. However, with a mature sound as well as professional musical skills, Delfino Squared surpassed the expectations of the audience. With passionate vocals accompanied by complex guitar riffs and solos, Delfino Squared displayed musical talent as well as an impressive stage presence.
After much anticipation, the judges announced that the winner was Delfino Squared. With this being the second year of the group participating in Soundclash, Delfino Squared will be performing during Spring Nooners, bringing their unique take on indie rock and alternative pop onto a larger stage.