By: Robbie Ciara
If you haven’t been to 37th and Zen this semester you definitely are missing out on one of the most talked about venues on campus. Located at 37th St. and Hampton Bldv., this venue brings an impressive and diverse range of entertainment. Most would say the venue is a beatnik eclectic forum with a diverse range of music and food. In fact, 37th and Zen has been making major buzz on campus since they’ve opened and it’s only getting better. It’s too hard to argue against two dollar tacos and happy hour prices (two dollar cold ones!) but when Justin Russell, 37th and Zen host and BattleGroundSound representative, asked The Scoop! to judge the weekly Battle of the Bands, it was a no-brainer.
37th and Zen brings in local talent for a battle royale winner-take-all event for cash and prizes. Make no mistake, this isn’t the junior high talent show, the bands featured every week are polished and talented. The first band that started the night was called Photosynthesizers. According to their bio, Photosynthesizers are a seven piece live orchestration of light and sound compounds; they chemically combine the music elements of electronic, hip hop and soul-school. This tronic-sonic supernova explodes the eardrum with a smooth kaleidoscopic photosynthesis for a conscious energetic stimulus. All verbiage aside, hip-hop vocalist Maurice “BarCodez” Jackson and female lead vocalist Samantha “Samsun” Hewlett immediately got the crowd pumped up and set the competitive bar high. Most Zen patrons whispered in the crowd that the Photosynthesizers sound is closely related to the Grammy award-winning group The Roots.
Next up was the rock group Blow, a Virginia Beach power that specializes in a lethal combo of rock tinged with jazz, soul, and explosive jams. Each member of Blow is a master of their instrument and an accomplished musician in their own right. The group features members Daniel Kathalynas, aka Dan Kath, Dave Greene who has played nationally in “Sky King”, “Service Elevation” and “Ruby Clipper”, and Ray Varga who is responsible for anchoring the grooves to this hard rocking trio. Ray is highly regarded as a local bass hero from the bands “Electric Sky” and “Creek”. Their experienced showed when they switched the crowds gears quickly rocked every eardrum in the Zen.
After our third taco, Inside Jupiter prepared to take the Zen crowd on a fantastic voyage. The group, made up of members Ryan, who plays guitar; Paul, who plays the keyboard trifecta; Joe, who plays bass ;Dan, who plays drums and Andrew who does vocals, kaoss pad and djembe describes themselves as “a spinning compass. Five men and five minds with five completely different music styles combined to form an absolute spectrum of madness”. They truly had a sound of their own, including a random member putting on a lightshow with several glow-n-the-dark yo-yo’s. The crowd didn’t quite respond to Inside Jupiter’s style, but we gave them high marks in originality.
Last, but certainly not least was the alternative rock band Aduro. Lead by male vocalist Travis, this Norfolk band came with at least 20 fans. Muj, Nick, Bill and Shannon complete the compliment of Aduro and they were just as polished as Photosynthesizers. Aduro has been creating buzz and a following throughout the 757 and we finally got a chance to witness the hype. Travis kept the crowd going with tracks like “House of Cards” and “Listen”. It was clear that Travis was the best male vocalist of the evening and it certainly left the judges feeling like this would be a hard one to figure out.
In the end, it was Aduro winning by a close margin over Photosynthesizers. Runner-ups are invited back for a rematch, so you can catch the bands again sometime in the near future. The crowd was the real winner as we were treated to a variety of music and entertainment (and good food!). You can find out more information about the Battle of the Bands and 37th and Zen at www.37nzen.com.
Photo Credit: 37th and Zen