R&B, pop fusion shine at Biggest Mouth


Kaitlin Hetterscheidt

Eikthyrnir, one of the performers at Columbia’s 9th Annual Biggest Mouth Competition, rocked the stage at the Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., on April 23. The Student Programming Board put on the event, and the lineup included a variety of genres ranging from hip-hop to psychedelic rock.

At the Ninth annual Biggest Mouth competition, jazzy pop and R&B lead singer Anthony Pavel and his four bandmates performed last, stunning the 700-person audience at the Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., stealing the spotlight and winning the competition. 

Pavel, a senior music major, sang the soulful, groovy tunes and even busted a few dance moves on stage to take the April 23 win over the 10 other Biggest Mouth performances hosted by Aaron Branch, a junior Business & Entrepreneurship major. Pavel said his band of college friends only rehearsed once  prior to the event and that it was his first time singing his original music in front of an audience.

“I did not expect to win,” Pavel said. “I was blessed with this opportunity. I feed off of the crowd and they were screaming, which keeps me going.”

He said he was stoked to play at the Metro because it is one of his favorite Chicago venues.

“The sound is amazing, and you [can] feel the energy encompassing around the walls,” Pavel said.

Pavel and his band received a $1,000 grand prize, a two-page spread in Highlight Magazine, an interview with Chicago artist blog Do312 and social media promotion, six hours of recording time at RaxTrax, a two-location photo shoot with local photographer Megan Leetz, a Warner Music Led Zeppelin prize pack, a Shure audio equipment package and a $50 certificate from Busy Beaver Button company.

Charlie Curtis-Beard ft. Human Bloom, a recently formed collaborative fusion band of upbeat hip-hop, soulful jazz, folk and rock, won second place, receiving $750, a Shure audio equipment package and a Warner Music Led Zeppelin prize pack.

“I like my lyrics to mean something and focus on something positive,” said Curtis-Beard, the band’s lead vocalist and a freshman music major. “I want everybody to dance and have fun.”  

Jackson Shepard, Human Bloom’s guitarist and a freshman music major, even ripped his pants and broke his guitar string during the performance. He said he just got way too into the performance but that it was great to know all the hard work paid off.

The five-person indie rock band, Friday Pilots Club, which has been together for a year, won audience choice for third place and received $500 and a Warner Music Led Zeppelin prize pack. 

Caleb Hiltunen, lead singer and guitarist for Friday Pilots Club and a sophomore business & entrepreneurship major, said he never knew Columbia had so much talent and that he was blown away by it.

“I am freaking out,” said Ethan Mole, a sophomore theatre major and drummer for the band. “We have only been together a year, and to come this far is incredible.” 

Other performers included: soulful hip-hop singer Rahkii; Pine of the Origin, a folk and rock indie band; Eikthyrnir, a psychedelic rock band; Jeremy Foster & the Nuance, a collaboration band of pop and R&B; Walsher Clemons, a jazzy upbeat pop ensemble; soulful R&B singer Rebecca Brunner; Blacky Chan, an alternative rapper; and Out the Car Window, a classic indie rock alternative band. 

Anjel Lopez, president of the Student Programming Board and a senior business & entrepreneurship major, said the four judges who selected the first and second place winners were Kelly Deasy, agency associate at Monterey International; Rick Barnes, owner and audio engineer at Rax Trax Recording Studio; Ajay Gosain, music lawyer and entrepreneur; Aaron Sweatt, talent buyer at House Call Entertainment; and Joseph Pembroke, a student judge selected through a Student Programming Board Instagram contest.

“[Biggest Mouth] helps with the overall branding and awareness of the artist,” Lopez said. “The Metro is such a legendary venue in Chicago, and getting to play that stage and a guaranteed audience is a really great opportunity. I think it gives them a great opportunity to win some prizes, play for some industry professionals and get a new audience.”

She said the 11 performers of various genres were selected from approximately 100 bands that auditioned in February and March. Auditions were based on a number ranking system and judged on originality, stage presence and musicality. 

Anna Agosta, a freshman music major and a first-time Biggest Mouth attendee, said she went to Biggest Mouth to support a bunch of her friends who were performing and also because she gets inspired by the performers and hopes she will sing on the same stage next year.

“I like to be a critic, but at the same time I am also taking notes in my head for my artistry,” Agosta said. “I like looking to see what it is that different musicians do and what makes them their own artist.”