The Brookfield Battle of the Bands, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, isn’t just another local showcase where high school kids come out of the garage and into the sunlight to shred for their friends.
It’s a launching pad.
Last year’s Brookfield Battle of the Bands winner, Trance, ended up being crowned the state’s Battle of the Bands champion at the Illinois State Fair and Brookfield’s champion from two years ago, Far Sighted, finished second.
“It started out being just friends and families of the bands and now it’s a big event that people look forward to,” said Arlene Rovner, the Brookfield Recreation Department staffer who is the lead organizer of the annual event.
This year’s Battle of the Bands, which will feature 10 acts, will be held this Sunday, May 17 from noon to 6 p.m. at the band shell in Kiwanis Park, Arden and Brookfield avenues. It’ll be the inaugural event for the 2015 season at the band shell and the first time the event has been held there, which should add a little cache to the 2015 edition.
“It’s just going to be phenomenal because it gives the kids a real sense of performing on a real stage,” Rovner said. “There’ll also be better sound and will be a nicer venue for people [to watch].”
The 2015 lineup is an eclectic mix of bands, some making return appearances, ranging from the classic metal of Death Row Baby to the pop punk of Aiming for Average to the straight-up jazz of Jazz Artisans.
“This is one of my favorite events,” Rovner said. “It’s so great to see the kids year after year and watch them grow musically. And the kids are so supportive of one another.”
In 2007, Brookfield sought to have its battle sanctioned by the Illinois Parks and Recreation Association, meaning the local champion moves on to a regional competition. The regional winner then moves on to the state competition at the state fair.
It also means that, while in the first year the bands typically came from Riverside-Brookfield and Lyons Township High Schools, now bands in the Brookfield battle hail from as far away as Downers Grove and Aurora. The last two winners, Trance and Far Sighted, were from LaGrange and LaGrange Park.
“One of the things we love about Brookfield is that it’s a very supportive environment,” said Ally Lubera, a member of Trance, whose members all go to Lyons Township High School. “It really pushed our band to have a perfectly polished set.”
While Trance is sitting out the Battle of the Bands this year, their win last year has resulted in other opportunities, including being asked to perform as part of Brookfield’s Outdoor Concert Series this summer, where the band will get to play in the band shell instead of a makeshift stage in the parking lot.
“We’re really looking forward to that,” Lubera said.
Since the start of the event back in 2006, the Brookfield Recreation Department has partnered with A Sound Education, the Ogden Avenue music store. Patrick Sheridan and Mike Doerr, the store’s owners, provide the sound equipment, run the sound board and serve as emcees for the event.
The village approached them about the partnership after A Sound Education held its own, smaller-scale battle of the bands in their parking lot in 2005.
“It became more of a town thing,” said Sheridan. “It was more important to us to have the community involved.”
While the store, which also offers music lessons, has served as an incubator for many musicians who have ended up playing at the Brookfield Battle of the Bands, Sheridan and Doerr’s role in the event is strictly in support. They don’t select or judge the acts.
“It’s all just a labor of love,” Sheridan said. “What we wanted was an outlet for the kids to play.”
Sheridan and Doerr know what’s like to be a teenager dreaming about playing in front of a crowd instead of in their parents’ basement.
“It’s a nice way to let the community see that the kids are not just making noise in the garage,” Sheridan said.
A Sound Education will also be raffling off a Fender Telecaster guitar at the end of the event, in addition to the many raffles the recreation department will be handling in between sets.
In the event of rain, the Battle of the Bands will be held on another date to be announced. The event is free to attend and open to the public.