Student Musicians Battle it Out for Top Spot at Standing Room-Only Competition

Nov 16, 2007 — Six rock acts of unique style and skill performed in front of a packed house at this year’s loud and raucous Battle of the Bands. The competition, held at the Geraldine Schottenstein Cultural Center on November 15, brought out the best of Yeshiva University’s musical talent and drew a standing room-only crowd of students from YU and beyond.

For photos of the event, click here.

The musical acts, each of which featured at least one YU student, ranged from semi-professional bands such as Yaakov Chesed, who plan to release their first studio album in December, to impromptu groupings such as Rugburn, whose members formed for the purpose of playing this event.

“People come to YU to learn different things, but no matter why they come, everyone has talents and they are looking for a place to show it,” said event organizer Daniel Bukingolts, treasurer of the Yeshiva Student Union.

The Battle of the Bands has become a consistent showcase for YU’s musicians. Past winners such as Blue Fringe and Omek Hadavar have used the exposure as a springboard toward successful careers as popular Jewish music bands.

With every seat in the auditorium full, many students sang and danced, filling the room with a palpable energy. Emcees Joshua Balderman and Eitan Esan, both Yeshiva College seniors, kept the crowd energized during the event with short shtick [humorous banter] and free giveaways in between acts.

For two hours guitars wailed, voices belted Hebrew and English lyrics, and yarmulkes bobbed and head-banged on stage. The range of sounds varied from jam band to metal and included both secular and non-secular songs.

In the end the judges, professional Jewish musicians, voted Yaakov Chesed the winners. Fronted by Jake Polansky, a junior at Queens College, the Jewish rock band will open this year’s Yeshiva University J&R Hanukkah Concert, adding to their already impressive list of gigs that include the Knitting Factory and a recent show in Savannah, GA. Michael Shapiro, Yaakov Chesed’s lead guitarist, is the only band member who attends YU.

Avodah, who will soon record two songs at Jantelis Studios, was voted the runner up. The other bands who performed were Jon Lamm Jam, The Return, and Ta Shma, a solo guitar act whose blues version of “Mary Had A Little Lamb” received a heartfelt ovation.

The event also included a raffle sponsored by YU’s Social Justice Society to raise money for YU’s new sister school in Uganda. The raffle, the result of a partnership arranged through the foundation Invisible Children, which helps educate Ugandan children, raised over $2,000.

If there was a question about the state of rock music at YU, this event affirmed that the scene is alive and well.

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