West Wins Third in the Battle of the Bands

West High, the host of the SBI Battle of the Bands, brought together bands from all over the South Bay to start off their marching band season.

Art/Photo by Allyson Mukai

West High, the host of the SBI Battle of the Bands, brought together bands from all over the South Bay to start off their marching band season.

Cyrilla Zhang, Sports Editor

   The hot California sun beats down on West High’s football field, creating wavy mirages in the air. Though it’s only 11 in the morning, temperatures are already nearing a sweltering 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Ethan Barriklow (10) squeezes onto the back of a golf cart with other students transporting ice ― and as it rounds a sharp corner, he lurches sideways, almost falling off the side railings, followed by stifled laughter. Other students scurry about the campus like ants, transporting items and setting up tents. For the first time since COVID-19 regulations began, the West High Entertainment Unit is hosting their annual South Bay Invitational “Battle of the Bands”.

   South Bay Invitational (SBI) is an annual competition that West High has held for the past 34 years. The event also functions as a fundraiser and is incredibly important to the West High Entertainment Unit (WHEU) as one-third to one-half of all the money used in a year comes from SBI. Although COVID restrictions limited the number of schools allowed to show up, West High Band Director Mr. Banim still managed to arrange the event through extensive communication and scheduling.

   This year, five schools came together to show off the skills they had learned so far. Tensions were high as other bands filed into campus in neat lines. Assorted warmups began to echo through the halls as time ticked by. Alex Arnold (10), a member of West High’s Color Guard, recalled, “Strangely enough… I was . . . completely creepily calm.” She was more preoccupied with not sweating all of her makeup off in the heat. Even though everyone had their own things to worry about, schools eyed each other as they passed by, sizing up competition.

     Performances started at 2:00 in the afternoon. First came San Pedro, then North High, followed by Redondo, South High, and finally, West High. Right as West High prepared to perform at the very end, the wind picked up. Anxious anticipation could be felt throughout the whole band. Playing music standing still was difficult enough in this weather, let alone marching. But as the drum cadence began and everyone began to step onto the field, shoulders straightened and focus returned to the students.

   Under the direction of Drum Majors Robbie Murata (12) and  Riyana Roy (11), West High’s band began to play. They progressed with growing confidence, recalling the positions they had spent so long learning like the backs of their hands. Step after step, note after note, the ending came nearer and nearer. The final crescendo was played strongly, holding a note for one… two…. three beats and stop! Applause and cheers came from the crowd above, and everyone hurried to make their way off the field and back to the bandshell. 

   Although West’s performance at SBI may not have been the best, students testify that it was also not the worst ― many mentioning how it sounded much better than the football game the night before. At the awards ceremony, Redondo came in first place, North High in second, West High third, South High fourth and San Pedro in fifth. Band Director Mr. Banim concluded, “We all performed to the best of our ability, and more than half the band has never done this before. So I think we’re doing awfully good.”