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Battle of the Bands Winner ‘Left on Red’ to Perform at Founders Day Festival

photos by Caroline Crane

Three bands played under the brights lights of Hudson’s on Thursday, April 13 for the annual Battle of the Bands to win the coveted Founder’s gig. Filled with regulars, high school students, parents, and judges, Hudson’s was packed to support the Student Council’s cause to raise money for the Baptist Mission for Haiti.

With all the great music that was played that night, it was all to raise money for the Baptist Mission of Haiti. This organization helps Haiti recover from the aftermath of the hurricane that occurred. After Battle of the Bands, Student Council raised approximately $550 for the cause; as $5 admission fees were charged at the door, in addition to donations that were collected by students as they walked through the crowd with various water jugs to collect the donations.

Maya Diaz, a sophomore of Dripping Spring High School, was one of the many students who came to watch Battle of the Bands. Due to Diaz being a musician and regularly participating in the Dripping Springs High School Jam at lunch, she knew most of the musicians that played at Battle of the Bands.

“I wasn’t rooting for a band so much as I was like ‘Left on Red is going to win’. There wasn’t a question for me,” Diaz said.

Her favorite part of attending Battle of the Bands was hanging out with friends, listening to the music, and the venue being Hudson’s.

“I take lessons at Hudson’s, so I was thrilled they were going to be the venue,” Diaz said. “And they did a fantastic job like always. I thought it was the perfect venue. I actually enjoyed all the acts, which I wasn’t necessarily expecting because last year, there were some performances in which I did not enjoy the music personally. But this year, I actually enjoyed every performance.”

The three bands that competed were Jaxson Power (Jaxson Thornton, Scotty Crosby, and Kianna Rodriguez), Clairvoyant (Michael Geary, Chris Lee, Drew Johnson), and Left on Red (Michael Thornton, David Reents, Thomas Reents, Jonah Brown, and Brandon Chaffin).

Starting with the opening band, Jaxson Powers, in which they specialize in a “new wave of hip-hop”. Junior Jaxson Thornton said that the band experienced some conflicts, calling it “a pretty crazy ride”. He explained that the week of Battle of the Bands, their usual producer, Pyeatt Hitchcock, was unable to play that night. Therefore, Thornton brought the newcomer, Scotty Crosby, a freshman with minimal experience, to fill in as producer. Yet, Crosby was ready to perform with Jaxson Powers, as he prepared and practiced for the big performance that Thornton invited him to be a part of last minute.

Crosby was confident in the band’s chances of winning, saying that he “felt great”  due to Jaxson’s experience and their lead being a “great performer”.

Jaxson Powers
Jaxson Power performs during Battle of the Bands. 

By participating in Battle of the Bands this year, Crosby said Jaxson is  “guiding him in the direction [he] want[s] to go in” with this particular type of music.

Crosby is also trying to gain as much experience as possible, so he can successfully play Battle of the Bands the next three years to further develop his career as a producer.

Aside from the band’s conflicts, Jaxson was not concerned about winning, he thought “getting the chance to perform” was more important and more valuable for his band. Last year, he won second place in Battle of the Bands.

“I’m not expecting to win,” Jaxson said, who considered his performance more of a “solo act”.

However, Jaxson still thought he still had good chances since the majority of the songs he performed were originals that he has written, as well as him having a great amount of professional experience outside of school in the music industry.

Yet, Jaxson Power did not place first in the competition, as Left on Red took home the Founder’s Day gig. Crosby and Thornton agreed upon the fact that the most likely reason they did not win was due to the crowd at Hudson’s and the scene of it being a “country bar”.

“The crowd wasn’t really there for hip-hop. It’s kind of hard when the crowd’s not into it. You can’t perform your best,” Crosby said. “However, it’s just about getting the crowd into it, even if they don’t want to.”

Therefore, Crosby hopes to work on crowd control, as he plans on performing the next three years at Battle of the Bands.

“Anytime you get to perform, it is a positive experience,” Crosby said.

Jaxson even commented that night in between songs that he could tell the crowd was not into his music, but stated that he was having fun while performing; and that’s all the really matters in Battle of the Bands.

The next band, Clairvoyant, played their pop punk music (while squeezing a promposal in between songs) last after Jaxson Power and Left on Red. This was the second year Clairvoyant has played Battle of the Bands, and they had an optimistic attitude going into this year’s competition.  Lead singer and guitarist Michael Geary said their experience “sucked” last year, as they were bumped last minute to open, as well as them having “technical difficulties” said Drew Johnson, the drummer of Clairvoyant.

“We’ve grown and done a lot of writing,” Geary said. Therefore, he was confident in his band’s chances of winning.

Michael Geary leads Clairvoyant during Battle of the Bands.

Yet, Clairvoyant did not win this year, but took the loss in good spirits as well. Geary and drummer Drew Johnson agreed that the band could have practiced more and that it could have been better overall if they had their bass player Foster Joyce. Along with Jaxson Power having scheduling conflicts with their members, Clairvoyant experienced the same issue with Joyce, as he was unable to practice due to being out of town.

Therefore, Joyce did not play that night and instead, the members during the performance had to switch off playing guitar and bass to make-up for Joyce’s absence. Even though Clairvoyant didn’t win, they still called their performance a positive experience. For the future of Clairvoyant, they will be continuing their music as they are releasing a new album this summer that will be available on Spotify and ITunes.

Lastly, the winner of this year’s Battle of the Bands was Left on Red, the rock band that had everyone dancing in front of the stage. After participating in Battle of the Bands two consecutive years, Left on Red finally won their well-deserved Founder’s gig. With practicing up to twice a week, having two years of experience of playing at Battle of the Bands, along with lead singer Michael Thornton’s 10 years of experience in music, Left on Red was hopeful and confident in their chances of winning.

“There is a bias every year,” Michael said, referencing the judges’ favoritism for seniors, especially after Telecom won last year. “The senior bands have always been good, but the second place and third place [didn’t] really make sense – they put seniors first because they’re seniors.”

Before the concert, Thornton said that a reason he enjoys the experience of Battle of the Bands is to receive “a critique in a different environment”, even if the “criticism has been biased in the past”. Thornton still appreciates any criticism, and he hoped that it wouldn’t be biased for them this year.  Before his band won, Thornton expressed his honest opinion about the judges.

“If we don’t get a first place, I’ll have lost all my hope in [Battle of the Bands],” Thornton said. “I’m pushing for audience vote because that would be more critical. But I wouldn’t say the judges aren’t critical, but they’re critical in the wrong way.”

Thornton explained he wouldn’t surprise them if they didn’t win. The lead singer explained that “in the past, the judges’ style preferences have been strange and there’s not very much diversity amongst it.” He has noticed over the years that the judges like indie or rap music and that they don’t seem to prefer rock’n’roll, which was another reason that Thornton thought they might not win.

After Left on Red’s performance of cover songs ranging from Modest Mouse to Oasis, the band won first place, then did an encore performance celebrating their win. Yet, Thornton admitted that they had no idea they would be granted an encore performance if they won, so they quickly arranged three cover songs to play by artists Chuck Berry, Foo Fighters, and Coldplay.

Reflecting on the band’s performance, Thornton said it was overall an awesome and fun experience with great energy from the crowd. However, Thornton described this year’s Battle of the Bands as a sad and nostalgic performance for the band, since they’ll be breaking up after graduation.

“We have a gig at Founder’s, the same day we will be playing at Prom,” Thornton said, so the band is looking forward to their last hurrah before they separate.

Both Clairvoyant and Jaxson Powers regarded Left on Red as the most deserving group of the night. Michael Geary called Left on Red a “great band”  and said that their win was “fair”. Jaxson Thornton gave high praise as well, calling Left on Red’s performance “phenomenal”.

“I’m happy that they won because they were so good,” Jaxson said.

In the end, all three bands that participated did an excellent job providing incredible music, all while helping the Baptist Mission of Haiti.

Written by Alyssa Weinstein, Staff Writer

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