On March 4, Rowan University held its annual Battle of the Bands, bringing together some of the greatest student bands to compete for the coveted title of best Rowan band. The event, co-sponsored by Student University Programmers (SUP), Rowan After Hours (RAH) and Rowan Alternative Music (RALT), was hosted in the Chamberlain Student Center, where nine bands performed in front of a crowded house.
With the school music culture increasing and prospering, the Battle of the Bands intended to showcase the abilities of students who joined bands on campus. The Battle of the Bands event has become a staple on the Rowan University calendar. The winner of the battle will perform at Hollybash, Rowan’s biggest event of the year. Second and third-place winners are also recognized.
“Rowan Music Industry Program has been blowing up. It is vital to our school. One of the main reasons people come here is for the flourishing music scene and it’s so big. It’s now a connection to the student body and directly through the school,” said Liam Devenny, the president of RALT. “Through that, we can showcase the talent that lies here in the middle of a student center, which is truly something fantastic. And Battle of the Bands every single year, it gets better, and I love it.”
The event was co-hosted by Devenny, along with one of Rowan’s prominent rock bands Earth on Fire who was last year’s Battle of the Bands victors.
The judges were Dan Durant, who has a degree in music and has been playing bass for decades, James Lynch, a previous president of the Rowan Alternative Music group, and prominent Rowan alumnus and decorated music artist Ant Saunders.
It’s worth noting that this year’s judges were chosen with greater care, as there had previously been an issue with judges who just could not grasp music at a higher level. All nine band performances were watched by these united judges, with each band exhibiting remarkable talents and unique sounds.
Shark Earrings, Swansun, The Jettys, Estrogents, MEASURES, Frankie Mermaid, Joey Fattore, Spud Mack and Wall Carpets were the bands who performed during the event. All of the bands were really skilled and distinctive, but only one could be named the best Rowan band, and that honor went to the metal band MEASURES.
MEASURES is comprised of guitarist Jonah Pirolli, a Rowan junior and psychology major, drummer Shane Fajgier, a Rowan senior and management major, bassist Nicholas Strope, a Rowan alumnus, and lead singer Trevor Cherkauskas, also a Rowan alumnus.
“We had no moshing here at the event, and for metal bands that can be a little restraining. So we kinda cut some songs out that we typically play live. We take everything kind of one day at a time at MEASURES and we just do one goal into the next goal into the next goal,” Cherkauskas said.
Back in 2019, the band began as a passion project under the name “Invasion.” They had a difficult time getting engaged in the Glassboro music scene because the bulk of the bands here are indie or rock, whereas their band’s music is heavier. This individuality, however, made them stand out from the other bands in Glassboro and on campus.
“It’s been a little tough because you know it’s a lot of indie rock like we had here tonight. And you know, we’re definitely not for everybody. You kind of got to enjoy metal a little bit to be into us, but we kind of like having that mix. There’s some screaming but we do some cleans too. And yeah, we are just trying to get involved here at Rowan more. Trying to gain a following down here in South Jersey,” Fajgier said.
MEASURES’ performance was intense, virtuosic and powerful. The judges praised their music, stage presence and creativity. Their performance demonstrated both their talent and passion for music.
MEASURES is currently working on new music, which they intend to debut at the Hollybash festival in April. Winning the Battle of the Bands has provided them with an excellent opportunity to exhibit their ability and music to a larger audience.
Shark Earrings finished second, standing out from the rest of the bands with their emotive and bold performance. They were the first to take the stage, setting the tone for the rest of the night and creating an impression on both the judges and the crowd. The band performed many originals from their EP “Mutual Toxic Positivity.”
“It was a blast to play and hang out with so many of the friends we’ve made in the scene. I was really happy with our performance, and I think every band of the night played really great. It was insanely close and I don’t envy the judges,” said Mike Landolfi, guitarist for Shark Earrings.
Frankie Mermaid took third place with a high-energy and exciting performance that had the audience cheering for more. It was evident that they had worked hard to give it their all on stage.
Yet, third place wasn’t the only honor the band won that night. There was also a fan favorite poll at the end of the event, where audience members could vote for their favorite band. This poll was also won by Frankie Mermaid, who will now play on the auxiliary stage during Hollybash in April.
“I’d say winning third and fan favorite is something the guys and I didn’t expect to say the least. I feel like people would think that’s kind of a corny answer but especially after every band performed and performed as well as they all did, we were very surprised to hear our name called out at all,” said Matt Stypa, the lead singer of the band. “I’d like to thank all our family, friends, and fans for supporting us since day one as we absolutely would not be where we’re at right now as a band without them.”
The Battle of the Bands was a monument to the skill and originality of the Rowan University student body, and it showed the spectrum of musical styles and genres that can be found on campus.
MEASURES’ music is available on all platforms, including the EP “REEL” which was released earlier this year. You can keep up with the band by following them on Instagram @measures.nj. Follow @rowanaltmusic for additional information on upcoming events, and be sure to mark your calendars for this year’s Hollybash festival on April 21.
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