The 7th annual Battle of the Advertising Bands

Conversant's LCA Soundsystem

Conversant’s LCA Soundsystem

This year’s
juried competition
of agency bands
will rock the
Cubby Bear
on May 17

The 7th annual Battle of the Advertising Bands, the Battle For Hope, returns to the Cubby Bear on May 17.

A juried music competition with rock, rap, disco, and soul overtones, the Battle for Hope raises money for Off The Street Club (OTSC), a non-profit organization that serves more than 3,000 boys and girls in the city’s Garfield Park neighborhood.

The bands each represent a specific Chicago advertising agency, and all the members work in that particular shop.

The 2019 lineup will include top finishers from last year’s show as well as agency bands that qualify by auditioning at the Hungry Brain, a northside lounge and music venue.

For more information about auditioning, click here.



A rocking tradition
The Battle for Hope’s current reigning champion, LCA Soundsystem, is a sixteen-member ensemble from the interactive marketing company Conversant. For their inaugural appearance last year, LCA played a whole lot of retro favorites, including Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way,” Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” and Prince’s “Purple Rain.”

Epsilon's Control Alt Delete
Epsilon’s Control Alt Delete

The rest of the 2018 lineup included AbelsonTaylor’s Hard To Swallow (the 2017 champs), Epsilon’s Control Alt Delete, FCB’s Consolidated Feedback, Havas’ Tap That Ads, and Weber Shandwick’s RFP.

The performances were judged by Pitchfork Music Festival’s Kris English, Chicago Recording Company’s Dave Dakich, and former Public Image Ltd / Ministry / Nine Inch Nails drummer Martin Atkins, who currently serves as Department Chair of Music Business at the SAE Institute Chicago.

The scoring system is based on performance, musicianship, audience reaction, and the x-factor.

Song selection is also key to a winning performance, according to Battle for Hope co-founder and Digitas SVP Sujal Patel.

“At the qualifier show, it’s about a hundred people from your agency, but the Cubby Bear holds about 800,” he explains. “If the audience is not moving their feet, it’s probably not the right song.”

Popular tunes from the past include Kanye West’s “Stronger,” Charlie Daniels’ “The Devil Went Down To Georgia,” and the Rocky Horror Picture Show’s “The Time Warp.”

A worthy cause
Funds raised from the Battle for Hope are specifically used to send kids to OTSC’s Camp Mathieu in Wheaton, a beautiful, safe, and leafy environment inspired by carefree fun.

FCB’s Consolidated Feedback
FCB’s Consolidated Feedback

The event was founded in 2013 by Patel, Accenture Associate Director Simon Kissler, and Pitchfork Director of Brand Development Kris English, who were motivated to combine their enthusiasm for live music with their support for the Off The Street Club.

“We wanted to bring a fundraiser for OTSC where the next generation could get involved,” explains Patel. “Our event is $25, it starts at 6:30, and there’s an after-party with live band karaoke.”

So far, the Battle for Hope has raised an estimated $300,000 for Off The Street Club.

But on the night of the show, it’s all about the music, which is nothing short of excellent. Enhanced by Cubby Bear’s pro audio and lighting equipment, the half-hour sets are intense, sweaty, swaying sensations fueled by a crowd that packs the joint wall-to-wall (so get your tickets now).