The Chicago advertising community’s annual battle of the bands competition, aka the Battle for Hope, will return to The Cubby Bear on May 18. A live performance of agency bands judged by music industry professionals, the ten-year-old event has not only sold out every year since it was founded, but also generates funds for the Off The Street Club’s Camp Mathieu in Wheaton. The jam will segue into an afterparty at HVAC Pub, 3530 N Clark St.
Tickets range from $25 for General Admission to $125 for VIP. To purchase, click here.
Competing bands are formed exclusively within the ranks of individual agencies. Each act plays a 23-minute set. Last year’s champion, iCrossing’s The X, will perform with the same members who won the 2022 booty, which includes an honorary guitar and a session at Chicago Recording Company.
The rest of the 2023 lineup includes:
AbelsonTaylor’s Hard To Swallow,
Cramer-Krasselt’s Angry PiCKles,
Epsilon’s LCA Soundsystem, and
FCB’s Consolidated Feedback.
The Circle Backs, a band consisting of mostly Edelman staffers, will also play but will not be eligible to win because one of the members is not an actual Edelman employee.
A panel of judges determines the winner by totaling points awarded in four categories. Musicianship and performance are each worth up to 15 points; audience reaction and the “x-factor” are worth up to five.
Past performances have included songs by ACDC, A-Ha, the Backstreet Boys, the Beastie Boys, Bon Jovi, David Bowie, Childish Gambino, Elle King, Foreigner, Heart, Kanye West, Nathaniel Rateliff, Outkast, Prince, Rihanna, the Smashing Pumpkins and Twisted Sister.
Founded in 2013 by Plus Company CTO Sujal Patel, 16 On Center Marketing Manager Kris English, and Accenture Managing Director Simon Kissler (all of whom worked for Digitas at the time), the Battle for Hope is known for packing the Cubby Bear with a standing-room-only crowd of music lovers and creative professionals.
Expressions of fan support have included customized t-shirts, foot-long glow tubes and gigantic band-member headshots.
Performers have also been known to leap off the stage and into the crowd.
Since the annual amount raised for Off The Street Club generally hovers around $60K, the Battle for Hope’s lifetime total donation to the nonprofit may top a million dollars by the time the event reaches its next tenth anniversary.
“Gathering for a night of fun and music is great,” says Patel. “But helping kids attend Off The Street Club’s summer camp is what it’s all about.”