Battle of the Bands 2009

Battle of the Bands: Youngsters take all!

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

This past Sunday 14 Northland bands competed in the 3rd Annual High School Battle of the Bands at the DECC Arena.

In previous years the bands’ ages put them on the verge of dashing off to college or even having a few members out of high school. This year the youth movement stole the show with many bands having members not even out of middle school. Breaking Glass, a two year old Esko band, took the top honors even though the youngest member isn’t in middle school yet.

“Ridiculous” was what Dave Pyrik, fifth grade bass player in Breaking Glass, said as he reached down from the stage to shake hands with his nervously-elated parents. The lights had just been turned on and his family was visibly excited for him after they were announced the winners.

Another band member said, “My heart is maxed out.” And yet another looked out at the exiting audience and asked, “Where are the women now?”

When Breaking Glass ( was announced the champion the crowd lit up and cheered the youngsters on. The band members ran together and jumped up and down in a circle while hugging. They were rockstars as they stood for their close-ups with the local media.

With the exception of fifth grade Pyrick, the rest of the band is in seventh grade. A rock band to their core, the band consists of Parker Goessling, Jacob Erickson, and Torrey Knuckey. Their set contained two cover songs, “Sympathy For The Devil” & “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love”, and one original, “All Right.”

One band that I have covered in the past is Completely Random of Duluth. We talked while they were preparing for their impending performance and getting set up.

“I’m not nervous, but excited,” J.J. Sivak said. “Which I guess is the same thing… I also want to get my guitar in tune.”

After their set Sivak went on to say, “I could see doing this as a career!” He also talked about breaking his sunglasses and couldn’t remember if he had been wearing his hat while on stage.

“It was really fun,” bass player Sam Wattrus said. “I thought it would be terrible, but it was awesome!”

A man walking by told the 8th and 9th graders, “That was a good set, the first one I enjoyed.”

From a reviewer standpoint I really liked the originality of the group and their songs. Their second tune, “Next To You”, was a great song with lots of energy. Jack Campbell played lead guitar and sang amazingly. Usually a shy kid, Campbellunloaded on the crowd and was captivating to watch. He really opened the show up and you could feel it from the crowd’s reaction. It was a throwback to lighters when the crowd lifted their lit cell phones in acknowledgement of Completely Random’s great playing.

Talking to Campbell the next day he seemed relieved that the experience was over. The comedown from performing for such a large crowd at 14 years old is filled with a roller-coaster of experiences.

“It’s been a big weight off my shoulders ever since we were done playing,” Campbellsaid. “Even during the set when I started playing I began to really enjoy the whole thing. We played, we learned, and later we’re going to play some more… So I’m pretty excited.”

One band that stood out for their stage show was Sand Factory out of Bayfield. With the exception of the lead singer, the entire band ripped their shirts off midway through their set. They were playing a punkish tune and would stop playing like they were done and return to the song again when the crowd cheered. The singer was in the typical 1990s uniform of dissent - the flannel shirt. This made the band have this punk meets interpretive grunge look and sound. They also had the modern day wavy mop-tops and chain wallets hanging down. As the opener, they showed why they describe themselves as, “ballers, hailing from the blood stained cliffs of the North.”

With so much music and the ages of the bands it gives hope that maybe rock isn’t dead. The 3,000 audience members who stayed for many hours were a shining reminder that the next generation is still hungry for great music.