top of page

Rocking out for Riley kids

An energetic audience and passion for performing makes the Battle of the Bands stand out

Daniella Solares


December 7, 2022

Opening Number - D!VOTS gets the night started on a high note. Pictured left to right is Finn Simpson (11), AJ Lambert (12), Spenser Johns (12), Delainey Wallace (12), and Hanna Dykema (12).

This past Thursday, December 1, 2022, Westfield Dance Marathon held Battle of the Bands, raising roughly $3,800.

Battle of the Bands is a fundraiser in which people vote for their favorite band by donating to the band’s donation page. The band with the most donations is declared the winner and gets to perform at the Dance Marathon on February 11. This year, five bands competed: D!VOTS, Anthead, Echos, Odaheim, and The Coolest People to Ever Exist. One solo person, Gabe Smith, competed as well with the house band.

Being up on stage comes naturally to those who are experienced, but Echos felt the pressure as a new band. Echos consists of Nico Sproule (10), Zac Miller (9), Frank Fitzsimmons (9), and Jisiah Ross (9). They each practice individually almost every day, but they got together each Sunday, practicing for four hours.

“We want to play big gigs so this is basically a trial run to see what it’s like,” Miller said.

For people looking to try Battle of the Bands, Echos is a band to look towards. As this is their first time performing, they have learned a few things about the process.

“Plan way before we did because we had four weeks to do this and… whew,” Miller said.

Similarly, another band, Anthead, was brand new to performing. Anthead consists of members Olivia Mann (10), Cooper Gilliatt (10), and Mia Venegoni (11). They performed with house band members Spenser Johns (12) and AJ Lambert (12). Mann noted how they were first brought into the scene.

“I was trying to find a band for this [because] I’ve always wanted to do this,” Mann said. “I found these guys and started practicing. It was kind of a long journey but we eventually got there.”

For Anthead, it was difficult to find a song that they could all play. They landed on “You’re the One” by Greta Van Fleet after much debacle.

“I’ve been playing bass for four months, so it was a little difficult, but then I finally found something that I could play that sounds decent,” Venegoni said.

Anthead had a little bit of experience performing. Gilliatt recalls playing guitar at Grand Junction Park, and Venegoni was in color guard.

“[Performing] is exhilarating,” Venegoni said. “It’s very scary at first but then you kind of get used to it and hear everyone cheering for you. You [think], ‘Oh, ok, I’m at home now.’”

Additionally, it did not take Anthead long to fall into sync. They all agree that their practices were more team bonding than anything.

“We’re all very connected,” Gilliatt said. “We spend a lot of time at practice just sitting around getting to know each other.”

Odaheim was another band that performed, consisting of Luca Barbosa (11), Jackson Black (11), Juni Miles (11), and Gavin Kincheloe (11). They performed at Battle of the Bands last year and hoped to make a memorable comeback.

“Last year we played the song ‘Welcome to Tally Hall.’ ... a carnival song,” Black said. “This year is going to be a lot more different because we are playing a Grateful Dead song, and I feel like a lot more people know them as a band.”

The Battle of the Bands is an event that encourages audience engagement. Black further explained what makes this event stand out.

“At the Battle of the Bands, there are definitely a lot of colors, [such as] the lights and everything shining down,” Black said. “It’s very intense when the bands come on stage, but there are intermissions in between where they invite people to play games.”

Performing can bring on a lot of nerves. Lead singer of D!VOTS, Johns, explained how she helped calm herself before Battle of the Bands as a returning member.

“Last year I brought a crystal to get the vibes pretty good,” Johns said. “We [also] do the Dance Moms thing where they shake out each body part ten times and then go down to one, so I am going to do that again this year.”

Johns explained that getting past the nerves is easier once on stage. As an avid performer, she said that the aura of the audience gauges her energy.

“The only way you get the aura of the audience is through their cheering,” Johns said. “It [is] really… euphoric when you are on stage and you hear all that. Once you get past the [nerves] it goes by so fast because you’re just up there doing what you love.”

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page