The 8th annual Battle For Hope will return to the Cubby Bear in Wrigleyville on May 14.
Combining a live musical showcase with a jam-packed industry bash and one of the city’s most rocking fundraisers, the battle of the advertising agency bands has become a bacchanalian pre-summer tradition in the Chicago creative community.
Besides live performances by individual bands whose members all work for the same Chicago agency, the crowd gets into the spirit by frequently parading around the venue with t-shirts, signage, glow tubes, and, on at least one occasion, a giant cardboard cutout of the lead singer’s head.
Past events have shown that they are very receptive to stage dives.
The event is also a fundraiser for Off The Street Club, a nonprofit that helps kids on Chicago’s West Side. Last year alone, it raised nearly $60K for the organization.
2018 BATTLE FOR HOPE
The road to the stage
According to iCrossing Global Chief Technology Officer Sujal Patel — who co-founded the Battle For Hope with Accenture Associate Director Simon Kissler and Pitchfork Music Festival Director Kris English — the months leading up to the show are thrilling as well. This is the time when bands audition for a spot on the lineup by performing at the Hungry Brain in Roscoe Village.
“It often becomes an agency happy hour,” he says. “Bands are judged on the first 24-or-so minutes of their set, but we encourage them to play for as long as they want and to invite as many of their coworkers as possible.”
Every member of the participating bands must be from the same agency or parent company, and their performances are reviewed by the BFH co-founders.
“In the qualifying rounds, we’re looking for stage presence, camaraderie, talent, and of course, musical chops,” Patel continues. “For the main show, it’s a little more important to get the crowd involved.”
The top-three finishers from last year’s show are automatically tapped for the 2020 lineup. They include Abelson Taylor’s Hard To Swallow, FCB’s Consolidated Feedback, and Conversant’s two-time returning champion, LCA Soundsystem, which may win the first-ever three-peat in BFH history this year.
A panel of musicians and music industry professionals judge the performances at the Battle For Hope. Previous judges have included Ministry’s Martin Atkins, Smashing Pumpkins’ Jimmy Chamberlin, and three-time Grammy winning jazz saxophonist Frank Catalano, and CRC’s Dave Dakitch and Mark Ruff.
Patel estimates that about a half-dozen bands typically tryout for the remaining three spots and says that some bands even play one-off shows to benefit OTSC without necessarily auditioning for a spot.
Other shops that have represented at the show include Cramer Krasselt’s Angry PiCKles, Havas’ Tap That Ads, and Epsilon’s Control Alt Delete. Patel notes that there have been no bands from the likes of DDB, Edelman, Ogilvy, Cutters, Optimus, WundermanThompson, and R/GA. This is not to say that he is issuing a challenge to those shops; just merely to suggest it.
To audition for the Battle For Hope, send a direct message to the event’s FaceBook page.