PFHS Battle Of The Bands 2023 Recap


Photo by: carter hendershot

Sheltered band performing at battle of the bands on February 10

Potomac Falls students had the opportunity to showcase their musical talents at Battle of the Bands.

Potomac Falls hosted their eighth Battle of the Bands on Friday, Feb. 10, where a total of 12 bands and solo performers played for an audience, as well as a board of judges. Judges determine who takes home the titles of Best Band, Best Solo Performer, and Audience Favorite. Throughout the night, audience members got to see the wide range of musical talent from students at Potomac Falls and other Loudoun County Schools. The performers, nine of which were from Potomac Falls, played songs ranging from classic rock hits to their own original work. 

“It was our most successful Battle of the Bands ever, outperforming last year,” said senior Evie Johnston, who performed in a solo act, band, and also emceed the first half of the event.

The titles of both “Best Band” and “Audience Favorite” went to the cover band Sheltered, whose members consist of seniors Manny Ampeh on the drums, Gavin Ballard on the guitar, Kyle Kish on the bass and vocals, and junior Henry Perkins on the guitar. These experienced performers were constantly moving around and interacting with each other and the audience.

After performing at Battle of the Bands for three years, this year was the first time Sheltered has ever won the title of “Best Band.” 

“Having the judges recognize us in the Best Band category was really awesome because it means they liked us and our music,” said Kish. “It was really awesome to win ‘Fan Favorite’ too, because it means the crowd really supported and liked us, which feels really nice.”

As a whole, the band thoroughly enjoys performing at Battle of the Bands. “Every year it is what I look forward to the most,” said Kish.

Sheltered kept the energy up during their entire performance. “Right before we go on we all have an energy drink, and the adrenaline keeps us going,” said Ballard, who can commonly be found headbanging when on stage.

“Before a performance, I listen to the tempo of the songs, so that I can keep time for the guys,” said Ampeh. 

Battle of the Bands did not only highlight ensemble performances. The title of “Best Solo Performer” went to Johnston. “I had a great time performing,” she said. Johnston performed an all acoustic set, just her and her guitar. 

Johnston performed “New Perspective by Panic at the Disco, “Happy by Mitski, and “26by Paramore.

“It was actually my second year winning [Best Solo Performer] in a row; [I’m] the first person to ever do so,” said Johnston. “It’s always nice to be recognized in any way for performing music, and for it to be the second year in a row was just the icing on the cake.”

Johnston not only performed solo, but she sang and played guitar alongside the band Vermillion Vacancy in a separate act. 

“I’ve performed for the past six maybe seven years in open mic style events so this was like old hat for me, but it was fun to be in a band for once.” 

The titles weren’t everything, however. The band Anti-Gravity, consisting of sophomores Jacomo Manfredi on the guitar, Luke Dumas on the bass, Owen Saraceno from Riverside High School on the drums, and freshman Robert Manfredi performing vocals, delivered an energetic performance. Covering hits such as “Mr Brightside by The Killers, as well as “Basket Case by Green Day, the band was interactive with the engaged crowd. They were holding audience members’ hands, singing to certain people in the crowd, signing autographs, and getting everyone to jump with them. 

“It was a very fun performance. [Luke Dumas] signed my arm,” said junior Brooke Simpson, who attended the event.  

Dumas and the rest of the band had a great time performing at the show. “It felt really good, [the audience] made it a lot of fun,” said Dumas.

Vermillion Vacancy, a chill, classic rock cover band, played Battle of the Bands for their first time this year, consists of seniors David Navarro on the guitar, Donovan McLean on the percussion and vocals, Johnston on the guitar and vocals, and sophomore William Blanco on bass. The band gave a more mellow performance, delivering strong vocals and clean bass lines, covering the songs “Vice by Miranda Lambert and “The Chainby Fleetwood Mac. 

Battle of the Bands was the first time McLean had ever played in a band. “It’s a cool experience because you get to work with people who legitimately enjoy making music and playing it together,” said McLean, who also played a solo acoustic act prior to the band’s performance.

The show featured soloists as well, including seniors Maddie Reese playing the piano, guitarist McLean, freshman guitarist Kailani Wilder, and multi-instrumentalists juniors Ed Chong and Trevor Vogt. 

Chong, who performed a mix of cover songs and his own self-written songs, played the guitar and piano during his high speed act. He covered “All Along The Watchtowerby The Jimi Hendrix Experience, “Nothing by Bruno Major, and his own song, “Parking Lots.

“This was my first time performing with experience at Battle of the Bands,” said Chong, “I enjoyed it.”

It was also the first time performing for Wilder. “I was obviously really nervous, but I enjoyed it and definitely would do it again,” said Wilder.

Overall, Battle of the Bands provided a great opportunity for student artists to showcase their talents and enjoy performances by others who share their passion. With the event filled with great energy, supportive people, and great music, this year’s Battle of the Bands will be a tough act to follow.