Antstock Awards Talented Anteaters
Antstock, originally a production solely put on by the UCI Bookstore, has been sponsored by ASUCI since last fall of 2008 when the two organizations combined events with ASUCI’s Student Services’ Battle of the Bands. Kristin Oto, fourth-year political science major and ASUCI V.P. of Student Services, stated that many on-campus organizations are joining forces due to budget cuts.
“Departments need to help each other out during difficult times to make existing events just as good,” Oto said.
In this year’s Antstock, in order to become a participant, groups or acts were allowed to submit a maximum of three original works to be judged, each with a minimum duration of 30 seconds. Participants then had the chance to market their submission to friends to receive votes online for the festival’s “Web award,” a more user-friendly and interactive change to last year’s Web site. Another improvement seen in this year’s Antstock is its in-door location, a debated turn-off to last year’s venue at the Student Center terrace. The UCI Bookstore’s marketing coordinators Ambrose Yu, Colin Stack and Kelly Kawata were the emcees of the evening, introducing performers and handing out raffling prizes in-between sets to the crunk tunes of the house band DJ Illimental.
Crystal Cove came alive as its first performers, RAPscallions, came onto stage. Composed of six rappers boasting a “hard and dirty” vibe, their raunchy number “Nuts on your Breath” elicited huge cheers as a rush of students fled to the front of the stage. Several members were holding containers of Planters Peanuts, illustrating a rather outdated metaphor to the audience. The playful lyrics and exaggerated rap gear could be taken as satirical, but was a bit confusing in terms of setting the mood as the premiere act of the festival. After their explosive performance concluded, emcee Ambrose Yu awkwardly reassured the audience that, “now the show is really starting,” prompting scattered ill cries from RAPscllions’ fans.
The second act was a huge contrast with their melancholy acoustic sounds — The Vindicats are composed of Julian Dean and Harrison Kipner, two fourth-years with great harmonies and likability. A rendition of the classic Beatles’ “Hey Jude” had most of the audience singing with the musicians.
After The Vindicats’ set, the first award of the night, “Best Instrumental,” was handed out to the house band DJ Illimental for his piece “Get up Get Soon.” The next act Pompus Monk’s lead singer Gabe Bundin-Smithers told the audience that the name of the group changes every week before starting their rocked out version of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” The high energy group featuring a vocalist, drummer, bassist and guitarist stood out with Bundin-Smithers’ great singing ability, earning the group with the “Best Vocals” award after their set.
The knockout group of the night was the fourth act The Vespertines; Vanessa Acosta, Kyle Cavaness, Alex Kater and Chris Walker commanded the stage with ease and charisma with their blending of rock sounds and vibes. Acosta’s sultry and powerful voice made her stand out as the only female vocalist of the night, but showed off another element to her talent as she brought up and played a trumpet during their song “Groundhouse.”
After musical group Asylum took home the “Most Original” award, a long technical lapse onstage prolonged the appearance of Clarke, another act that had brought a huge fan base to the competition. James Clarke, lead vocalist and pianist, Francis Tan, Brijesh Pandya and Mike Lopez boasted a smoother Michael Buble-esque sound, which was unfortunately fragmented due to poor speaker quality. After a performing their song “Don’t Change,” Clarke told the audience that the next song was dedicated to all the “guys who never get the girls.”
The final group and recipient of the user choice “Web Award” was Artisun featuring Eric Saidi, Yoshi, Matty G and TJ Heckerman. Lead singer Saidi, a third-year biological sciences major, says his band entered the competition last year but didn’t make the cut.
“Antstock was a lot of fun, it was our first gig in front of an audience with lights and a sound system. It was fun to perform with my new band,” Saidi said. Artisun emphasized audience interaction, band members jumping off the stage and singing to audience members.
“We hope to play more shows at UCI and record music,” says Saidi on Artisun’s future endeavors.
With “Song of the Year” awarded to Thirstbusters’ “So There,” the final “Live Performance” award of the evening, which includes the above mentioned honors as well as a professional photo shoot with photographer Melly Lee and a performance at UCI Dining’s event Amazing Zot Race, was awarded to The Vespertines.
Antstock felt a little rough around the edges but was a great way to showcase the various talented Anteaters to the rest of the student body at no cost. At this rate, Antstock is surely set for an even grander and more enjoyable event next year.