Battle for Hope announces 2018 lineup

AbelsonTaylor's Hard To Swallow performing at the 2017 Battle for Hope

AbelsonTaylor’s Hard To Swallow performing at the 2017 Battle for Hope

Today, the sixth annual Battle for Hope announced the lineup of advertising bands that will compete in this year’s concert fundraiser for Off The Street Club at the Cubby Bear on May 18.

The five-act bill includes a pair of top finishers from last year’s competition, a pair of veterans returning for another go, and a newcomer that earned a spot by performing in a qualifier show.



The Battle for Hope was founded in 2013 by Digitas SVP Sujal Patel, Accenture Associate Director Simon Kessler, and Pitchfork Director of Brand Development Kris English.

The trio was motivated to combine their enthusiasm for live music with their support for the 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.

“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.”

In 2017, the Battle for Hope sold out for its fifth consecutive year and generated $75,000 for OTSC.



The acts on this year’s bill that received automatic entry are AbelsonTaylor’s Hard To Swallow (the reigning champion) and Havas’ Tap That Ads.

Weber Shandwick’s RFP played a set at last year’s show, but it was just for fun because one of the members did not actually work for the agency. According to Patel and the band, this is just fine.

“Our number one objective is to help the club,” he says. “It’s okay if they want to play a show and sell tickets and donate the funds.”

Newcomer LCA Soundsystem, from the digital marketing shop Conversant, earned its spot by playing a qualifier show at the Hungry Brain, a northside lounge and music venue that Patel owns with Mike Reed, director of the Pitchfork Music Festival.

FCB’s Consolidate Feedback and Weber Shandwick’s RFP made the lineup through the same process, although each of them have played the Battle in the past.

The judging criteria for the qualifier shows is identical to that used during the main event:

Performance — Stage Presence, Crowd Interaction, Visual Theme/Dress, Minimal dead air
Musicianship — Quality of musical presentation, pitch, intonation, dynamics, rhythm
Audience Reaction —Audience response to the band
X-Factor — How impressed were you as a judge

Besides these factors, according to Patel, song selection plays a big part in determining the winner.

“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.”

Music lovers who want to see and hear what goes down this year should grab tickets soon, because the show’s popularity has soared to rock star levels.

“Last year, tickets were being scalped in front of the venue and sold on Craigslist, which is unheard of for a fundraiser,” says Patel. “It’s a public event, so you can buy tickets off the Cubby Bear website.”