Walking into Snug Harbor on a cold Tuesday night in January and being met with the chaos of five bands trying to find any open space to store their instruments could only mean one thing — the Battle of the Bands was about to commence.
The night kicked off at 9:30 p.m. with Until Later, a three-piece band of SUNY New Paltz students performing classic rock covers as well as their original works such as “The Mistress.” Taking the stage next at 10:15 p.m. was O-RAMA!, a local ska band that kept the crowd up and dancing for the whole set mixed with originals like “A Gun Fight” and ska arrangements of pop songs like “Paper Planes” by M.I.A. The high energy came to a head with the third act, The 3 Skins.
A mosh pit opened up during the punk band’s set, where they played crowd favorites “Pissing on the Sidewalk” and “Meatball Manifesto.” Kingston Kane, a hard rock band, followed up with tracks from their 2021 album “In Red” and well-known covers, namely “My Hero” by Foo Fighters.
Finally, the competition came to a close with The Field Service, an improvisational rock band and a staple of the New Paltz music scene. They performed a few of their originals, like “Slow Motion Sally,” from their self-titled, 2022 debut album “The Field Service.”
After five electrifying performances and a record-breaking turnout for Snug Harbor, packing the bar to the brim by 11 p.m., it was time for the judges to make their decision. Each band got approximately 30 minutes to showcase the best of their abilities and were judged as such to earn the final time slot at 1:15 a.m. The winners were also awarded a cash prize and custom t-shirts made for the event by New Paltz’s own Greta Hahn, a fourth-year visual arts major. Hahn is also known as Gert from Gerts Merch, a local vendor.
The event was organized by Ari Cummings, a fourth-year digital media productions major, along with his fellow judges, fourth-year journalism student Alli Dempsey and fourth-year music major Jack Salzman. The three reconvened after a long night of enjoying the music to announce the winner of the Battle of the Bands: The 3 Skins. Immediately, the three got on stage for their celebratory set.
Parker McWilliams, guitarist, said, “It was sick. It felt crazy to win.” The group went on and delivered a show-stopping encore. Matthew LaGoy, drummer, said “We made sure we took precautions to make sure that we would win, like playing really hard and breaking a snare. Bringing a second snare — that’s moreso the precaution we took.”
Sam Kniffen, bassist, invited John Roy, the trombonist of O-RAMA!, to join them on stage for covers of “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Tequila,” warranting much crowd participation, including the judges on the microphone for each shout of “Tequila!”
This was not the first of The 3 Skins and O-RAMA! crossovers during the night. LaGoy played with O-RAMA! for their entire set. Due to unforeseen illness, both the bassist and drummer of the ska band were unable to attend the competition.
With an hour to show time, LaGoy was able to learn the setlist on the spot, by listening to the music with his phone held up to his ear. “I feel lucky to have played the way I played and to have the chance to have played with O-RAMA! and I’ll do it again,” he said. “You hear me, John Roy? I’ll do it again.”
The 3 Skins are a newer addition to the Hudson Valley music scene, having been around for less than a year. Despite this, they have already played their fair share of shows and have amassed quite a following. Attendees can be spotted wearing their merchandise throughout the crowd at the various venues they have performed at. Coming off of their win, The 3 Skins played a show at Toasted Newburgh on Feb. 10 and have another planned for Feb. 18 at the Hog House. All members of The 3 Skins agreed, for the next Battle of the Bands, they will be back to defend their title.
“I’m never gonna stop,” LaGoy said, “I’m never gonna stop every waking moment. I want to play music and these guys helped me with that. They gave me an opportunity, and an outlet to do that and I want to be on this earth as long as possible to continue doing that with these people.”
All five bands can be found on Instagram: @ulband_ @o.rama.band @the_3skins @kingstonkaneband @thefieldservice