Sun God Battle of the Bands 2012 Contestants

The Lifted

Cut from the same cloth as such southern rock-tinged radio headbangers as Kings of Leon, with an added dash of Foo Fighters and a singer who belts like Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke, the Lifted will provide the Battle of the Bands with the requisite lighter-in-hand power ballads of the night. Their formula isn’t the most original, but after finishing first place in student votes for the Battle of the Bands, the Lifted is probably more concerned with packing a couple hundred smiling, fist-pumping ragers into a sweaty pub than they are with finding artistic solace. 

According to the Lifted’s bio, the band formed last year when UCSD roommates Jeff (bass/vocals) and Jacob (guitar/vocals) contacted drummer Ben and vocalist Jerome in the hopes of forming a band. Since then, the Lifted has played local shows at practically every UCSD venue, from the Che Cafe and Porter’s Pub, to Home Plate and Espresso Roma. 

“Expect a lot of rockin’ original material and a lively, passionate following of fans,” the band told the Guardian in an email Wednesday. “These are our two greatest assets. Mostly, we’d like to have a great time and prove once and for all that we are worthy to be part of the most sacred of UCSD traditions: Sun God.”

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Button Willow Locomotive


In the spirit of such recent success stories as Mumford & Sons, Button Willow Locomotive has developed a polished brand of unobtrusive folk-rock bursting at the seams with cuteness and quirk. The duo, UC Irvine’s Alex Heflin and Amanda Carson, met in college and began making music together in 2010. Now, they’re backed with a band (drummer Albert Law and bassist Kyle Gustafson), propelling the peppy shuffle of “The One With the Moon” and the Dire Straits-esque barroom groove of “Don’t You Worry” to confident new heights on stage.

“We’re all originally from the Los Angeles County area but we’re currently boppin’ around all different parts of southern California,” the band told the Guardian in an email Wednesday. “What can you expect from our performance? Some bumbling awkwardness and Amanda’s attempts at wit, but mostly music from our hearts.”

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Madeline Mann

The Guardian’s own Opinion Editor/up-and-coming songwriter Madeline Mann made the cut for this year’s Sun God Battle of the Bands, bringing her carefree blend of folk and pop to the Porter’s Pub stage this Friday night. Hailing from Santa Monica, Mann writes clever and sassy songs in the style of a sort of stripped-down, bedroom pop version of Taylor Swift.

Mann’s most notable track, “Hot Guys with Four Eyes” has appeared on more than two dozen geek and gamer websites — landing her a proud, self-proclaimed “geeky following” and over 7,000 views on YouTube. More recently, Mann won a Battle of the Bands at UCSD’s Home Plate and headlined at this year’s Los Angeles Mensa Convention. She is also set to perform at Revelle College’s music festival Revellution in May. 


Alier and the Band

Having already secured a dedicated following, and opening for notable acts such as Devin the Dude, the Cataracts, the Game, People Under the Stairs and the upcoming Freddie Gibbs show at the Loft this May 8, Alier Johnson is hardly a newcomer to San Diego’s hip-hop scene. And, with his refreshing, revivalist approach to purely analog live rap, it’s little wonder how Alier and “the Band” (guitarist Andrew Ramos, drummer Kyle Venezuela and bassist Nina Dumas) have turned so many heads. 

Johnson’s flow is fine-tuned and consistent with a lyrical approach more akin to the recent trend of everyman rap a la Curren$y and Kendrick Lamar’s Black Hippy crew, than to the gangsta rappers of decades past. With the solid soul/rock grooves of his skilled accompanying band behind him, the result is some infectious hip-hop that’d start Sun God off with a seriously smooth pre-party. 


Lucinda Matlock


Taking cues from the slightly less obvious champions of psych-rock and shoegaze, the dubiously named Lucinda Matlock, are lead guitarist Matt Yantzer, bassist Michael Wied and brothers John and Luke Vickers (front man and drummer, respectively). On songs like the driving “Brittle” and triumphant, jangling “Walls” Lucinda Matlock aims for a pretty straightforward take on the starry, soaring 90s power-rock/pop of bands like the Smashing Pumpkins and Jimmy Eat World. 

“We have been playing together for about nine months now, and we’re really starting to gel together as a band and develop a sound we can all get behind,” John Vickers told the Guardian in an email Tuesday. Despite their relatively recent formation, Lucinda Matlock has some of the most confident and sleekly-produced recorded music of the six bands set to play this Friday. In terms of what’s to be expected of Lucinda Matlock’s set, Vickers seems as confident as the band’s radio-ready demos suggest: “You can expect us to get on stage and have one hell of a good time playing some rock ‘n’ roll!”

We Care

Unlike the other bands competing this Friday, We Care has no official biography or flashy up-and-comer website. The only publicly available information about the three-piece UCSD band made up of Alan McCaffrey, Tyler Cranford and primary songwriter Kenny Katayama is on their Bandcamp page in the form of two streamable demos.

But the music kind of speaks for itself: brief and loud explosions of dirty, sweaty synth-punk. Songs like the fuzzed-out and funky “Cash” and the even heavier sex-thrash of “Flashing Lights” recalls a lo-fi, slightly more unhinged Death from Above 1979. When the band slows things down to place the focus on meditative harmonies and bouncy grooves, they lose some of their edge, but the rest of their recorded material is some of the most inspired debauchery set to appear this Friday, straight from this year’s dark horse competitor.