Battle of the Bands

Battle of the Bands is a contest in which two or more bands compete for the title of "best band". The winner is determined by the general response of the audience or the band who brings the most people to support them. Traditionally, battles of bands are held at live music events and forums. Popular examples include the yearly Live and Unsigned contest in the United Kingdom and the annual SoundWave Music Competition.


A Battle of the Bands is a contest in which many bands, usually rock or metal bands, but often musical acts from a range of different styles, compete for the title of "best band". The winner is determined by a panel of judges, the general response of the audience, or a combination. The winning band usually receives a prize in addition to bragging rights. Prizes usually include cash, free recording time in a local recording studio, support or main slot at a local or large gig, a piece of new equipment, or a gift certificate.

Battles of bands are sometimes held as part of a live music event; they are also commonly held at high schools and universities. The term "Battle of the Bands" is a trademark in Canada, held since 1998 by the Toronto promotions company Supernova Interactive.[1]

Historical incidents

The simultaneous release of albums and singles in 1995 sparked a media-fuelled "Battle of Britpop" between northern England's working-class Oasis and southern England's middle-class Blur.[2] Also in the United Kingdom, the largest annual music contest in a battle of the bands format is Live and Unsigned, which has been operating since 2007. The contest regularly draws 10,000 participants, with the grand prize of a £50,000 recording deal.[3][4][5]

In popular culture

A Battle of the Bands event forms the climax of a number of films, including Bandslam, Blues Brothers 2000, Up in Smoke, School of Rock, Freaky Friday, and Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey. In the 2012 horror thriller film House at the End of the Street, starring Jennifer Lawrence, there are scenes resembling Battle of the Bands.

In the mid-1960s, Battle of the Bands events became popular in Texas. The Catacombs, a popular Houston rock nightclub in what is now the Uptown area of Houston, hosted many well known groups of the era including Grateful Dead, Jethro Tull, Jeff Beck Group, and The Mothers of Invention. Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio were also popular venues.[6]

In 1968, California band The Turtles released a concept album, The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands, with the band playing in different styles from psychedelic to surf music to bluegrass.

In the Take That musical, Never Forget, the show centres on a tribute band working to win the "Battle of the Tribute Bands".

Third World Games have produced a Battle of the Bands card game, which takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the music business. The object is to recruit members into your band, equip them with instruments, win "gigs" and "hit singles" and earn enough "Superstar Points" to win.[7] The game is also available for play on GameTable Online.[8] There is also a Battle of the Bands video game and TV movie. In the music video game Guitar Hero World Tour and all games that followed, a "battle of the bands" mode is featured as an online gameplay mode.

The "battle of the bands" concept has had a heavy influence on reality television. Shows such as the Idol series and The X Factor borrow the basic concept of a "battle of the bands" except with individual singers instead of whole bands, combining the concept with a serial elimination format. There was a brief American series in the vein, The Next Great American Band, that did use whole bands.

In the 2003 film School Of Rock Dewey Finn enters Battle of the Bands with his students. It happens is the musical and TV adaptation of the same name.

In the 2011 Australian film Swerve, a battle of the marching bands serves as background to most of the scenes set in the small country town.


  1. "Canadian Intellectual Property Office"
  2. Chris Roberts, Heavy Words Lightly Thrown: The Reason Behind Rhyme, Thorndike Press,2006 (ISBN 0-7862-8517-6)
  3. "Live and Unsigned Winners and Results 2011". Live and Unsigned. July 26, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
  4. Keates, Helen (September 29, 2008). "Here's looking at you, Kiddo360". This is South Wales. Retrieved 2011-05-07.
  5. "Live and Unsigned". Live and Unsigned. Retrieved 2011-05-02.
  6. "The Catacombs, Of Our Own - Houston Rock Clubs in the late-1960s/early-1970s". Retrieved 2015-02-26.
  7. Official Website for the game
  8. GTO Info Page for the game Archived July 11, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
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