Biggest Mouth brings fresh fusion of sound

By Marisa Sobotka, Campus Reporter

R&B soul artist and junior music major Anna Agosta took home first place after an electric performance for the nearly 400 people who attended Columbia’s Biggest Mouth competition on April 20.

Agosta, along with six backing-band members, competed against 11 other groups for the 11th annual title at the Metro, 3730 N. Clark St. Like past winners, the band won a $1,000 cash prize, a 10-hour session at I.V. Lab Studios and will be opening for the soon-to-be-announced Manifest headliner May 12.

The band has been working together for a year, but Agosta said this was its biggest performance to date. As a fan of the Metro venue,  she said she has wanted to perform there and at Biggest Mouth since her freshman year.

“I have been here for multiple concerts before, and it has been a dream of mine to perform at Biggest Mouth,” Agosta said. “It was a huge opportunity, and I am thankful we got to play together.”

With controlled vocals and a tight musical performance, the crowd buzzed while Agosta performed her original song “Never Fall” with a soulful, upbeat sound. She said because the crowd interacted with her during the track, it was easy for her to feed from that energy for her performance.

Agosta described the win as “unexpected,” adding that she has plenty to work on before the Manifest performance but is excited for the opportunity.

Taking second place, alternative pop band JuiiX won the $750 prize. Senior music major Kelsie Johnson has led the four-person band since meeting her bandmates her freshman year.

Johnson made her grand entrance by jumping out of a metallic chest in a full tutu ensemble along with the band,  all dressed in silver metallic suits. With a strong stage presence and a unique beat, JuiiX closed out the performances of the night.

“It was an amazing experience,” Johnson said. “I was overwhelmed by all the people, and it was great to see the reaction of the audience to my song.”

The group previously won third place in the 2014 Biggest Mouth competition, but now as a senior with new a music style fusing different music genres, Johnson said the second place win was exciting.

“We were just feeling the audience and giving back everything in us,” Johnson said. “I tried to put everything onstage so I could be proud of what I did before I left.”

Indie-rock band Capital Soiree rounded out the winners in third place, winning $500. James Kourafas, guitarist and singer for the four-man group and sophomore audio arts and acoustics major, said the group has performed together for five years. But like Agosta, this was one of the band’s biggest shows yet.

Capital Soiree quickly captured the crowd’s attention with its on-stage chemistry, raspy voices and clean sound. Kaurafas added that he could not have asked for a better experience or group of people to work with.

Other bands and contestants included ABZU, Liquid Gardens, Human Bloom, Lil Kydd, Ysa Yaneza, Amane Symone, BeeKay, Lipstick Frisbee and Forever Kyra.

Last year’s winners and the 2017 Biggest Mouth hosts Jina Ballenger and Shantel Cribbs of ConSoul opened the show with a series of runs and  free-styles and closed with a rendition of Chance the Rapper’s “Sunday Candy.”

Compared with the previous years’ performances, the 2017  contestants provided more variety and unique sounds than ever before, said Elana Schmidt, Student Programming Board’s director of Communication and sophomore business and entrepreneurship major.

“We wanted to make sure the performers that we selected had a great stage presence, can fill a  stage and really hype up the crowd,” Schmidt said. “We picked the 12 top performers that we thought would get the crowd going and be different.”

Claire Bernotavicius, SPB member and junior business and entrepreneurship major who attended the show, said it was good preparation to get the opener in the right headspace for Manifest.

She added that Agosta will fit in well with the planned headliner of the end of the year festival, which they are waiting to unveil.

“It exposes everyone to all the talent of your fellow classmates and gives the opportunity for us to see 12 amazing performers for free and at an actual venue,” Bernotavicius said. “It encourages people to come together and appreciate this one aspect of our college.”