2019 Battle of the Advertising Bands

LCA Soundsystem

LCA Soundsystem
wins top honors at the
Battle for Hope
benefit show
for the second
year in a row

Conversant in-house musical group LCA Soundsystem was declared the best advertising band in Chicago at the 2019 Battle for Hope on Friday night. Concluding one of the most impressive and suspenseful shows to date, the 20-member ensemble wowed the Cubby Bear crowd with a set of covers that spanned genres and generations of popular music.

The Battle for Hope is a yearly ad industry live music competition and Off The Street Club benefit founded by iCrossing Global Chief Technology Officer Sujal Patel, Accenture Associate Director Simon Kissler, and Pitchfork Music Festival Director Kris English.

Competing bands are formed exclusively within the ranks of individual advertising agencies. Those that rank among the top three finishers in any given year are invited to battle again the following year. Newcomers audition via qualifier shows at the Hungry Brain, a West Lakeview bar and live music venue.

Starcom’s Sorry! I Was On Mute, The Marketing Store’s Patti’s Preference, AbelsonTaylor’s Hard to Swallow, and FCB’s Consolidated Feedback were on this year’s bill along with LCA Soundsystem. Havas’ The RTB’s was also scheduled to take the stage, but their appearance was foiled by a sound-check gone bad.

Starcom and Marketing Store at the 2019 Battle for Hope


The music
With an abundance of members and a big dose of talent, LCA played more musical styles than a River North karaoke machine. They set the mood with a cover of Toto’s “Africa” and climaxed with Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”

The band alternated lineups throughout the performance, ultimately shape-shifting into a stage full of bearded, rowdy Vikings for the final number.

“Their stage presence was excellent,” says Patel. “Live musicians screaming and shaking their fists in the air — that’s where these guys excel.”

Other covers heard during the show included Beastie Boys “Brass Monkey,” Smashing Pumpkins “Cherub Rock,” and Will Smith’s “Getting’ Jiggy With It.” There was no Lynyrd Skynyrd.

AbelsonTaylor and FCB at the 2019 Battle for Hope


The judges
A panel of music professionals evaluated the action and determined the winner. Among them was Chicago Recording Company Senior Mixer Mark Ruff, who went about it guerilla-style and observed the show from different vantage points throughout the venue.

Sujal Patel and Mark Ruff at the 2019 Battle for Hope
Sujal Patel and Mark Ruff at the 2019 Battle for Hope

“I want to see and hear the bands from all over the room,” he said during a break. “In front of the stage, with the crowd, back in the judges’ booth … that’s the best way to do it.”

CRC also will also be providing the winner with a recording session at its Streeterville facility, the largest independent music studio in the country. Other components of the prize package included a Squier Stratocaster trophy.

Joining Ruff as judges were Frank Catalano, who runs the After School music program at OTSC with Fred Barnes; and Scott Blessman, a 2014 Battle for Hope champion who is currently North American Director of Analytics for DDB.

LCA Soundsystem at the 2019 Battle for Hope


The winners
When it came time to announce the evening’s best, nobody had any idea who would win because every band killed it in their own way.

LCA acknowledged as much when they accepted the Squier — which will probably be mounted on the wall next to the one that they took home last year. The band also noted that the real winners are the young Chicagoans who benefit from Off The Street Club.

The annual proceeds from the Battle for Hope average about $60,000 and are used to help fund OTSC’s Camp Mathieu in Wheaton, IL, where kids get enjoy the “full summer camp experience” every year.

To view photos from the 2019 Battle for Hope, click here.

Send your music news to Reel Chicago Editor Dan Patton, dan@reelchicago.com.