Paradise gig to be awarded to Beanpot band battle winner

Paradise gig to be awarded to Beanpot band battle winner

By Jessi Savino

Rock ‘n’ roll and hockey don’t exactly go together – unless it’s Beanpot season.

Along with the annual Beanpot hockey game, pitting four Boston-area universities against each other on the ice, Qdoba sponsors the Rice and Beanpot, which challenges the schools to compete on the stage as well. Titled “The Battle of the Beanpot Bands,” the four bands from their respective Beanpot schools bring their rock ambitions to life, competing for the winning title.

In past competitions, the winning band’s CD was distributed in local record stores. This year, they will get to headline a gig at the Paradise Rock Club.

Another major change is in the selection process – last year, Qdoba chose the four finalists. This year, the list was determined by students’ votes.

The new prize makes the desire to win much stronger, said acoustic singer-songwriter Brian Bergeron, frontman for this year’s Northeastern contender, Brian Bergeron and the Late Greats.

“When we first joined the competition, it was just for the exposure,” he said. “But then they upped the ante for the prize, and now that’s what we’re in it for. As long as I’ve been in Boston it’s been my goal to play at the Paradise.”

Sixteen bands from four schools were nominated for the competition by their respective schools’ administrative campus activities committees, then narrowed to four final bands after six weeks of text-message voting from students. In addition to Bergeron and the Late Greats, the other competing bands are Harvard’s So Long Princess, Boston College’s Bluebook Addiction and Boston University’s Beautiful Lies.

Each band was responsible for their own advertising to elicit student votes leading up the event, said Scott Bernstein, a Blitz Media spokesman.

“It was really grassroots marketing by their existing fan base,” he said. “It was all word-of-mouth.”

For Bergeron and the Late Greats, this marketing was successful. More than 2,000 votes were cast between the 16 original bands, of which Bergeron received close to 400, 70 votes more than any other band.

“He really blew the other bands away,” Bernstein said.

The tough competition made Bergeron surprised they won.

“We tried the best we could, which is all we could do, but it was tough to gauge who was ahead before the winners were announced,” he said.

The format of this year’s battle will be the same as last year’s event, with the winning band chosen based on the audience’s applause.

“It’s really a popularity contest,” Bernstein said. “It all depends on how many friends and fans [each band] brings into the event to vote for them.”

Bernstein said this year’s prize was reflective of the changing musical landscape.

“Last year we put their CD in stores, but the industry has changed and people aren’t buying CDs anymore,” he said. “So instead, we’re getting them new fans.”

Although he wouldn’t reveal many details of his prepared set for tomorrow’s show, Bergeron said they will perform five original songs and one cover – all while wearing some kind of costume.

Leading up to the night’s show, Bergeron said the band had to “kick it into high gear and really get our act together.” But he said there’s no pressure to follow last year’s Beanpot winner, fellow Northeastern band, Project 1.9.

“It’s not necessarily about the music, or who’s the best band,” he said. “It’s more of a school spirit event, so the pressure is more to get Northeastern kids there to cheer rather than on how the performance goes.”

Regardless of who’s named the winner, Bergeron said he has a sense of validation.

“It’s nice that after four years I finally have something to show for all the hard work,” he said.

The Battle of the Beanpot Bands is tomorrow night at 7 p.m at the Paradise Rock Club, 967 Comm. Ave. The cost is $12 at the door.

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