Student rock band Dionysus wins Battle of the Bands


Patrick Cavanagh | Staff Photographer

Dionysus members Myles Naylor and Christian Ryan close the night at Battle of the Bands.

By Darin Fields, Staff Writer

The opportunity to perform is not one musicians take lightly — for many, making music is the easy part and getting the masses to hear it is more difficult. But Pitt-based new age rock band Dionysus will get the opportunity to share its music at Fall Fest after winning Battle of the Bands on Wednesday night. Pitt Program Council hosted the event as part of the lead up to Fall Fest on Oct. 10, a free day of concerts and music for all Pitt students headlined by pop artist Lauv. The winner of the event, Dionysus, will be the official student opener for Fall Fest, followed by George Clanton, provided by WPTS Radio, and direct support opener Elias Khouri.

At Battle of the Bands, each participant was given ten minutes to set up, and then ten minutes to perform as many songs as they pleased. According to Keely Rehman — PPC’s Interest Exploration Director, as well as one of the event judges — the performers would be judged based on overall performance, crowd interaction and adaptability to the Fall Fest stage.

Melodic hip-hop artist Michael Eastond, a junior political science major who goes by the stage name Lil Mike, started off the night. Lil Mike was joined by his producer Rocky Oberti, a junior computer engineering major. According to Lil Mike, the two met in Market Central during their first year at Pitt.

“We started freshman year,” Lil Mike said. “We met at Market, one of my friends brought me over to his table and that’s how we met.”

Lil Mike said getting the opportunity to perform at Fall Fest would be a tremendous achievement for him and Oberti, as the two have worked tirelessly on their music.

“It would mean a lot to me and Rocky,” Lil Mike said. “We invest a lot of our time into this, a lot of our money into this, we’re really passionate about it.”

Following Lil Mike was the band Funky Lamp, who defined their music as alternative with a little bit of funk. The band is composed of entirely first-years — undecided Ben Orr, undecided Rocco Condenzio, bioengineering major Jason Bonavita, pre-physical therapy major Holly Miller and chemistry major Dominic Brazzle. Orr, who plays guitar, said they lack a significant amount of experience but have quickly built chemistry in their time together.

“We’ve been practicing for just a few weeks,” Orr said. “Just been doing weekend kind of jams and we got pretty good chemistry going.”

Miller, the group’s vocalist, said the group takes a creative approach to their songwriting. The group utilizes their “funky” lamp to create songs based on its changing colors.

“We have this lamp that changes color so to inspire us we would go out to the Nordenberg patio and try to make some music and change the color,” Miller said. “Say, ‘oh it’s orange, so let’s make an orange song.’”

Closing out the night was new age rock band Dionysus, composed of junior engineering major Myles Naylor, senior finance and accounting major James Boston, senior political science major Christian Ryan and senior finance major Joe Stanton. According to Boston, the band’s bassist, the group started playing together during the COVID-19 pandemic and has grown since then.

“We started during COVID. We picked this thing up as something we could do while everything was shut down,” Boston said. “We kept sticking with it and just came out here to give it a shot.”

Boston said winning the competition would be amazing for their group, as they wanted to give back to the Pitt community through their music. Ryan, the band’s guitarist, is also an enthusiastic fan of Lauv.

“It would be fantastic, our guitar player Christian is a big fan of Lauv so he’d be excited for sure,” Boston said. “We definitely would be honored, thankful for it, would be a step in the right direction to do some good stuff for Pitt and get some good music out there.”

After the third and final performance, the judges convened briefly and selected Dionysus as the winner. Boston said he was excited about the result, but made sure to emphasize it was the collective effort from the group that led to this outcome.
“Super excited, first of all thankful, wouldn’t have happened without my buddies in the band. It’s a team effort 100%,” Boston said.

Even though Lil Mike and Funky Lamp were not selected this time around, this will not be the last Pitt students see of the two acts. Both groups said they intend to compete again in the spring for a chance to open at Bigelow Bash, PPC’s spring music festival.

Not only will the runner-up acts attempt to perform in another PPC-organized event, but they may organize an event themselves. Despite coming out victorious, Boston said he admires the other two acts and expressed his desire to perform with them in the future.

“Shoutout to Funky Lamp they did a great job, and shoutout to Mike as well he also did a phenomenal job,” Boston said. “I honestly would love to maybe get a concert going with both of them, [it] would be awesome to try and collaborate and do something for Pitt students.”
While the idea of a collaboration looms in the future, Boston said Dionysus’ focus is set on their opening performance less than two weeks away. 

“Practice, practice, run through, run through,” Boston said. “We have some room for improvement, hopefully, we can just have a good time at Fall Fest and bring some entertainment and some good vibes.”