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Rockin' Out for Riley

by ERIN CLARK and REAGAN MOTSINGER - Dance Marathon members and musicians reflect on their experience at Battle of the Bands.

WESTFIELD, Ind. (Nov. 20, 2019) - Westfield High School’s annual Battle of the Bands has come to be a widely anticipated event in the lineup of Dance Marathon fundraisers. The night is special to all involved and for Morale committee co-chair Julia Clark (11), as well as the Riley cause in general, has become increasingly significant over time.

Elijah Windle (11) on bass during the Boyfriend Stealers’ rendition of “Burn” (photo by AVA BOEDEKER)

“I had joined Dance Marathon my freshman year because the seniors were doing it, and I really wanted the seniors to like me, being my little freshman self,” Clark said. “Then after sophomore year, I truly realized what it was all about, it wasn’t about just being cool or being with my friends in a club, it was really more about what we were doing. I started to realize that what I was doing was important, and after every Riley story, I would want to help that kid, and what could I do to help that kid. I’m so happy that I’ve joined and that I’ve really understood the meaning behind it all.”

Clark was not alone in her passion for the kids. Her committee members shared her enthusiasm for the cause.

“I just really like it because it’s a really good cause,” Daniela Rascón Gracia (10) said. “It’s a really good community to be in because everyone has the same goal and wants to help these kids, so I just really like that.”

The positive environment did not stop with the Dance Marathon committee; band members also thought that Battle of the Bands built a welcoming group of people with similar passions for them.

“Backstage with the other bands is so much fun,” Gryphon Weintraut (12) said. “It’s like a whole musical community back there. They just want to make the show a great show. It‘s not super competitive; everybody‘s just complimenting each other after their performances and giving advice and talking about influences, and it‘s just a really great experience every year.”

Tyler Eubanks (12) singing with Armando and the Others (photo by AVA BOEDEKER)

Weintraut was a guitarist in the winning band, Guided Meditation. The group won Battle of the Bands last year as well, and they spent many practice sessions honing their act in preparation for this year’s event.

“We actually originally formed for Battle of the Bands last year,” Weintraut said. “We had each participated in different music groups for a while--a couple of the members were in a group before, Emily [Rhodes (11)] did gigs on her own and I had just started guitar lessons a year before that, so I had only been playing for a year. We practice almost once a week for a whole year-ish. We just like to play together.”

Unlike Guided Meditation, Armando Tandy (11) and his band, Armando and the Others, formed in a class before deciding to compete in Battle of the Bands.

“We formed in Rock Band Ensemble,” Tandy said. “We all met in that class, and we all thought ‘Hey, this is a good band, we should do something for Battle of the Bands.’ Originally we were going to be a KISS cover band that doesn’t cover KISS, and we were all going to be Gene Simmons, and I was the only one who wore the makeup for it.”

Outside of his own band, Tandy ended up being one of many performers who played multiple times throughout the night.

“First I was just going to do one band, and that was my band, Armando and the Others,” Armando Tandy (11) said. “Then another band asked me if I wanted to join them and so I thought it would be a good idea to keep joining bands because I wanted to get myself out there some more, and what better way to do it than to push yourself to your limit. I ended up doing four bands.”

Zach Byrer (12) playing guitar during his performance of “Take Me Out” with Armando and the Others (photo by AVA BOEDEKER)

Because some participants like Tandy were in several bands, they were back and forth between groups. This produced a bit of a challenge for Rascón Gracia and her fellow Dance Marathon representatives.

“I was involved in set-up and then getting all the bands together and making sure they were where they needed to be,” Rascón Gracia said. “The hardest part was that sometimes the musicians were going around where they weren’t supposed to sometimes, so it was hard to get them all together, but it still went pretty smoothly.”

Clark also saw her fair share of difficulties both before and during the event.

“At our rehearsal a band didn’t show up, and they didn’t give us any clue, so we had to cut them,” Clark said. “Then there was a bit of cat-fighting between a band because there was a lot of ‘I think it should go this way’ and ‘I think it should go that way,’ and so it was a bit of a struggle because we were like, ‘Cool, there’s no band, it’s fine,’ but we figured it out anyways and we got through it, so it was okay.”

Despite a few last-minute hiccups, Clark felt that all the hard work put into making Battle of the Bands possible was worth it.

“We met for weeks on end, just meeting after meeting, because we had to write the script, get band information, we had to change a bunch of dates and date deadlines, get people to sign up,” Clark said. “But it all worked out in the end, which was good because it was definitely a stressful event, but also a lot of fun.”

Mrs. Angie Torvik and Mrs. Sarah Gibbs singing during karaoke (photo by AVA BOEDEKER)

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