A night far from off-key


The band, Mark 3 performing at the Battle of the Bands. Photo by Walker Hardy, Sept. 16

Red and purple stage lights glared into the eyes of faculty and students on the evening of Sept. 6. From red drums to a bright-green electric guitar, the rock-hard melodies shook the KCSC stage, while a slower R&B tune calmed the hype. 

It was the Battle of the Bands — KCSC’s biggest musical event of the semester.

There were six bands that performed: The Bella Locas, Mark 3, Pris Bros, Mars & the Fine Poets, Common Collective Band and Phantom Falls.

Bringing local Chico State artists together, radio station KCSC is run by students — for students. The station hosted Battle of the Bands on Trinity Lawn, kicking off the end of summer by giving students a way to express themselves artistically on stage, all while competing for the title of best band.

The winning band, Mars & the Fine Poets, photo by Walker Hardy.

From word of mouth, flyers and promotion through KCSC’s Instagram page, KCSC provided a physical stage for people to use their voice. The radio station helped facilitate an atmosphere both tender and hyper for a night that supported not only community adhesiveness, but mainly, local musicians.

21-year-old Ren Partida, the assistant diversity and inclusion director at KCSC, felt proud of the event’s outcome. Partida was glad that KCSC was able to foster this space for creatives to come together and enjoy one another’s presence and musical talents. 

“Being able to support the community, artists of color and queer artists is something to be proud of,” Partida said.

To kick off Battle of the Bands, members of KCSC spun a wheel with all the band’s names to see what two bands would first face one another. Once the two bands performed their songs, a poll on KCSC’s Instagram was posted, letting the audience vote for who they believed should move forward to the next stage. 

The spinning of the wheel continued to eliminate the bands that were voted out, until two bands were left standing. The final two groups competing for the title of Battle of the Bands were The Bella Locas and Mars & the Fine Poets.

After making it past three rounds of competition and to the final stage, the winning band was revealed to be Mars & the Fine Poets. 

The second place band, or rather musically-inclined group of friends, The Bella Locas, consists of six members: Susy Correa, Demondra Martin and Alexis Ong as the main vocalists, and Cameron Sue, Noah Wolfe and Dillion Flemming each play a respective instrument.

The Bella Locas performing live at the Battle of the Bands. Taken by Walker Hardy, Sept. 16.

Through friendships that originated in the Bay Area, Susy Correa along with the other members started to find their own musical kinship as a band in March of 2021. Like a dream that seems inconceivable to most, this group of close-knit friends grew popular from being authentic, showing emotion and creating original songs.

The group of six started to create originals that eventually landed them their first gig at Chico’s local dive bar, DownLo, in December 2021. Since then, the band has been trekking forward in hopes of producing more original music and sharing it live.

“My favorite thing about being here is the music community because it has been so nurturing and the way we’ve been supported is crazy,” Correa said.

The battle of the bands to see who was the best created a safe space for artists to explore being creative in a social setting. It can be a lot on the nerves, being in front of friends and strangers and still being expected to perform well. 

Approximately 400 students, faculty and Chico community members gathered on the soft, green grass to enjoy live music from Chico State students. One student in particular was engulfed by the warm, cozy hug the night gave her. 

Before dawn on Trinity Lawn. Two friends, Victoria Hyland and Jessica Neff enjoy the live music. Photo by Walker Hardy.

Fourth year biology student Victoria Hyland has never felt inclined to participate in school-run events. From the variety of activities to do in Downtown Chico; the infamous Riley’s Bar and Grill, the delicious cheese burgers at The Bear, or the local knick knacks from Made in Chico, other activities always seemed to capture her eye. 

Yet this time, the glimmer of stage lights caught her eye, taking her off her normal course to Downtown. Walking onto the lawn outside Bell Memorial Union, Hyland said she felt almost overwhelmed with the amount of love and unity this event emulated.

“Being in Chico you don’t get to see a lot of expressions, whether that’s a cool outfit or a little concert. I’m happy I found this event and KCSC because I felt very safe and comfortable,” Hyland said.

The energy was high, the grass laid flat from the numerous blankets sprawled out and the repetitive jumping by the audience. The student-run radio show, KCSC, has opened a creative space on campus to aid musicians in projecting their voices and opinions out into the public. Whether it’s about an emotional hardship that many may relate to or being an activist for a political issue, KCSC gives students the opportunity to be heard.

Music has always been a saving grace, from handling a break up, to losing someone you love or fighting for human rights. Music can be a symbol, symbolizing and allowing you to express whatever you feel internally.

However, this night symbolized the vision of the community that Chico hopes for: love, respect and tranquility.

Walker Hardy can be reached at [email protected]