The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer

The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer

The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer


Young Musicians Show Out in Brooklyn Bowl’s Battle of the Bands

The event, organized by Fordham student Ernie Perez, was a celebration of up-and-coming talent in New York City
NYU student Rylie Faith brought the pop-punk energy, opening the night with an original song and a cover of Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8er Boi.”

Four bands and over 100 young people converged at the Brooklyn Bowl for Battle of the Bands on Sunday, April 21. The show was organized by Fordham student Ernie Perez, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’24. It featured performances from Rylie Faith, Loveseat Pete, The Millers and Spencer Arjang, all musicians based in New York City and the surrounding New Jersey area. Proceeds from the event went to the nonprofit organization Backline Care, which provides mental health support for people working in the music industry.

The show was a knockout-style musical performance competition. After all four acts performed, the crowd voted on their two favorite sets, and the finalists played sets head-to-head before the crowd chose a winner, who then returned to stage for a final encore performance.

Each band performed with electrifying sets that had the crowd of young people on their feet and solidified the Battle of the Bands as a huge success.

Rylie Faith

Rylie Faith opened the night with a bang. Her powerful voice and infectious pop-punk energy had the crowd stomping to the beat. She performed a set that included her latest release, “In Love 2.0,” and a cover of Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8er Boi” that had the crowd screaming along with her to the iconic pop-punk powerhouse.

While she didn’t make it past the first round of the competition, the New York University (NYU) student wowed the crowd with a combination of soaring vocals and intimate crooning that showcased her range and versatility behind the mic.

Loveseat Pete

Hailing from Central New Jersey, Loveseat Pete is a four-part alternative band made up of college students Danny Mitchinson, Matt Keenan, Jason Wenzel and Vinny Nigro. Mitchinson, Nigro and Wenzel started the band as a three-piece in high school, and they added Keenan, their drummer, during the pandemic.

Loveseat Pete’s original music, with sweet vocals and catchy riffs, had the Brooklyn crowd feeling the music and swaying to the beat. Although their act didn’t receive enough votes to make the finals, the New Jersey band certainly left a mark on the New York crowd. They have already made a return to the boroughs, playing shows in Queens and Brooklyn the weekend after the Battle of the Bands.

“Playing in NYC has been pretty amazing,” Nigro said. “We hadn’t played in Brooklyn prior, and they definitely showed us love!”

Spencer Arjang

Indie rock artist Spencer Arjang took his act to the finals with a peppy set where he sang and played guitar along with an accompanying band. Arjang is a born and raised New Yorker, and he hopes to make a career in music as a live performer. He played a combination of indie rock staples, such as a cover of “Freakin’ out on the Interstate” by Briston Maroney, and original music, including “Desert,” a stirring song about his experiences with love and heartbreak. Arjang’s soft, inviting vocals and stellar guitar playing had the audience swaying to the music.

“It was such a great opportunity to play my original music in front of so many young people,” Arjang said. “I’m sure I left that night with some fans in the audience.”

The Millers

NYU-based rock band The Millers were the winners of the Battle of the Bands. Their electric first set rocked the crowd and earned them first place in voting for the finals. They won the audience over again in the face-off with Arjang and took home the championship crown with an encore performance to close the night.

“Watching people in our age group vibing to our music and dancing with us was an experience that I never had before. I’m really grateful for everyone that came out and shared the moment with us!”

The Millers are a rock band made up of Mio Lopez, Spencer Kra, Hana Saldate, Crosby Doyma and Chiwoo Ahn, who met at the NYU music business program. The Battle of the Bands was only their second band performance, but their chemistry and ferocious energy were reminiscent of a seasoned rock group. Their sound, a mix of rock ‘n’ roll, jazz and funk elements, is perfectly suited for lead singer Hana Saldate’s smoothly sensitive but brilliantly powerful voice and stage presence, and Guitarist Chiwoo Ahn’s thrilling solos.

The Millers are just beginning their takeover of New York City, as all five members are first-year students at NYU. Winning the Battle of the Bands is not a bad place to start. 

“Watching people in our age group vibing to our music and dancing with us was an experience that I never had before,” Ahn said. “I’m really grateful for everyone that came out and shared the moment with us!”

The night was a hit among New York college students. The Brooklyn Bowl was packed with young people who danced to the live music under a massive disco ball and tried their hands at bowling in the 16-lane bowling alley next to the stage, enjoying the atmosphere of community they found with their peers. There was a strong presence of Fordham students who came out thanks to the tireless promotional efforts of event organizer Perez.

“It was a really cool experience, just getting to be around my friends and good music was really awesome,” Vee Venning, FCLC ’27, who went to the Battle of the Bands with their friends, said. “I loved the bands that played, I couldn’t believe how many people my age are already that talented.”

The dance floor was popping even during the downtime between sets thanks to DJing by Ms. Worldwide, who spun a mix of hip-hop anthems and throwback classics to keep the energy flowing and bodies grooving at the Brooklyn Bowl.


For Perez, organizing the Battle of the Bands was just the beginning.

“The first show is always the hardest,” Perez said. “One thing that I’m really proud about is that everyone loved the show and had a nice night.”

He plans to continue organizing events like this one, and he aims to cultivate a musical community for young people in New York City.

“I’m already getting calls and texts about the next one,” he said.

The show was originally planned for last December, but Perez faced health issues that forced him to push the date back to the spring. For Perez, however, adversity and doubt are a part of the program that he has learned to rise above.

“There was a bunch of people telling me it was impossible,” he recalled. “And I almost quit. I almost quit, but it just takes one ‘yes.’ One yes and a lot of guts.”

Beyond organizing concerts, Perez is an active member of the Fordham community. During his time at Fordham he served as treasurer of Fordham’s Fashion for Philanthropy (FFP) club. Through FFP, he helped put on events such as drag shows and the Halloween Runway, which electrified the Fordham Lincoln Center community and raised thousands of dollars for charity organizations.

Perez has kept charity central to his mission, using the Battle of the Bands as an opportunity to raise money for the mental health support network Backline Care. He dreams of becoming an organizer for even larger shows and events, and he has dedicated his time at Fordham and in New York City to working toward making this dream a reality.

“It’s crazy to see something that you think in your brain — that you’ve been telling people is gonna happen for 10 months — actually happen,” Perez said. “It’s just like, the whole night … It really happened.” 

Additional reporting provided by Elizabeth Corallo.

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About the Contributors
MATTHIAS LAI, Former Opinions Editor
Matthias Lai (he/him), FCLC ’25, is a former head opinions editor at The Observer. He is a former assistant copy editor and head features editor. He is a journalism major who loves exploring and learning about New York City. He spends his free time baking, reading and enjoying the view from his rooftop.

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