The Mary Anns practice before performing at the finale of the Sounds of the Underground Battle of the Bands on Sunday, May 5. // Photo by Mike Oh
The audience at the Bellingham Alternative Library anxiously awaited the judge’s to announce the winner of Western’s Battle of the Bands, Sun
day, May 5. Audience members clapped and cheered as Ruben Gomez announced The Mary Anns will perform at Western’s 2019 Lawnstock music festival on the Communications Lawn.
The Mary Anns, an Americana-inspired band, took the stage with a modern folk sound combined with a classical violin. The five piece band is made up of Skylar Tibbetts, Skylar Kaster, Serafima Healy, Elijah Kirk and Ben Weaver.
Tibbetts and Healy said they have been playing music together for over a year and a half. Since the two started, they’ve slowly recruited three more members including the newest addition, drummer Ben Weaver. The performance was his second time playing with the Mary Anns.
“We feel extremely lucky to have played with such talented musicians and having been part of such an awesome event as a whole,” Tibbetts said. “The great thing about this community is regardless of who won this ‘battle’, the other bands still came up to us afterwards to congratulate us.”
Gomez, the Associated Students Underground Coffee House coordinator, ran three previous rounds of Western’s Sounds of the Underground: Battle of the Bands competition at the Underground Coffee House, but decided that the final round be held off-campus.
“My favorite all-ages space is the Alternative Library,” Gomez said. “It’s close to campus and it’s a nice change that helps to integrate the Bellingham music community with the Western music community.”
The four finalists, Analog Brass, Idell Drive, Sidney and the Guys and the Mary Anns were selected through three rounds of competition leading up to the finals.The three judges, Katie Grey, director of the Makeshift, Hollie Huthman, co-owner of the Shakedown and Alan Schellenberger, Western’s Music Department alumnus and drummer in Bob Fossil, chose the winner from the group of four finalists.
Analog Brass, a six-piece brass group, started the night off by marching from Western’s campus all the way down Billy Frank Jr. Street, playing for onlookers and pedestrians before marching to the venue.
Analog Brass played a five-song set, including an instrumental rendition of “Old Town Road,” a popular country song by Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus. They finished off their set with a packed audience and a line extending outside the door with people waiting to get in.
Idell Drive, an alternative-rock trio based out of Bellingham, switched up the mood by striking heavy guitar riffs. Despite it being a school night, the energy and amplitude of Marcus Benson, Alex Golombek and Zach Cowin kept peoples hands up and the heads bobbing.
Sidney Amos, Zach Bassett and Ryan Barney took the stage under the name Sidney and the Guys for the last act of the night. Their mixture of piano, guitar and drums had the audience jumping up and down before transitioning into a slow piece to close out the night.
Kyle Venooker, a volunteer at the Alternative Library, said it is important to have safe and radical places for marginalized people to come and amplify their voices.
“There’s a lot of really positive stuff that happens here,” Venooker said. “We get to foster a really diverse and unique music scene.”
Tibbetts said The Mary Anns have several shows coming up, and are busy preparing to release new music soon.
“We are also releasing an EP shortly and will have shirts later this month,” Tibbetts said.
According to Tibbetts, the four bands plan on holding a jam session in celebration of the event.