By Amber Montgomery, Glenvar High School
Paddleboat, a band of Glenvar High School students, put Bandfest at the top of their priority list, and their determination paid off as they placed first in the annual competition held this year on Feb. 23 at Northside High School.
“This is actually the first year we have been able to play in the competition due to other conflicts we have had in years past,” said Glenvar senior Chris Bell of Paddleboat.
For the event, in its fourth year, students gathered to listen to local student bands perform and compete for the Bandfest title. In the weeks prior, the Student Advisory Council, which runs the event, used fliers, emails and word of mouth to invite bands to perform at their night of drug- and alcohol-free fun.
Of the 17 bands that submitted applications, seven bands were chosen to perform: Bon Qui Qui in the Dawg House, Continuum, Dying Ohio, Levi’s Gene Pool, Paddleboat, Paradigm, and We Burned the Skyline. Guest artists who also performed included Salem High student Sam Valentine and Northside High student Tyler James. Brett Sharp, a radio host with 94.9 Star Country, was the main emcee for the night, along with other Student Advisory Council members.
Two stages were set up in the main gym, allowing bands to set up and tear down more easily. Fans were allowed to move back and forth between stages on the floor but were also able to stay seated on the bleachers. The crowd often danced and sang along with the bands, and across the gym, students from different schools were laughing, joking, and just having fun.
“Every year it gets better,” said Glenvar student and SAC member Sarah Thomsen.
The fun continued throughout the facility. Food, including pizza and Chick-fil-A, was available. Carnival games, operated by parents of SAC students, were also scattered throughout the two-story venue, giving students multiple options for entertainment.
As the show came to a close, the audience was able to text in their vote for their favorite band of the night. Paddleboat came in first place, with Continuum in second, and We Burned the Skyline in third.
“Our experience as a band couldn’t have been better,” said Bell. “We were able to get to know some other local bands and made new friends fast! I would have to say, speaking for the band as a whole, being able to play in front of over a hundred people standing just a few feet in front of us screaming and singing along with our music made the day worth while.”
The band will attempt to keep up the momentum by playing around the region. Their next gig will be at the Roanoke Valley Relay for Life event on March 16 at Cave Spring Middle School.