Illustration by Shenuka Correa

Musicians Battle it out

A look into NYUAD's first ever Battle of the Bands.

Entering the Marketplace on a Thursday evening, one would expect to be greeted with silence and bright warm lights, but last week it was covered in darkness except for the bright neon lights illuminating the stage. The smell of buttered popcorn wafted through the air as faculty, students and staff wandered around the Marketplace, waiting impatiently for NYU Abu Dhabi’s first Battle of the Bands competition to begin.
Battle 2
Photograph by Dominique Aquino Joaquin
While audiences ordered ice cream and popcorn, performers waited impatiently, some with instruments in their hands, softly strumming the chords of their guitar or humming their tunes in preparation for their performances.
Finally, host and coordinator, Matteo Marciano, Assistant Professor of Practice of Music Technology, jumped onstage. After a few short introductions and thanksgivings, the first ever NYUAD Battle of the Bands had begun.
Battle 3
Photograph by Dominique Aquino Joaquin
The evening began with an hour of solo performances, starting with Jian Ryou, class of 2020, with renditions of Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud and Adele’s Make You Feel My Love. She was followed by several performers including Emma Tocci, class of 2020, who performed original songs on stage with her ukulele and Himag Vaidya, class of 2019, who performed originals and covers with his signature guitar and surprised everyone with a brief rap of Eminem’s Lose Yourself. Each performer garnered cheers and applause from the audience. Singer, songwriter and poet Mohamed Hassaballa, a student at Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, rounded out the group.
Photograph by Dominique Aquino Joaquin
There were four group performances during the evening. The acapella group, The Wanderers, featured singers Jacinta Hu, Christine Shao, Ana Karneža, Nisala Saheed and Brian Kim, all from the class of 2020. The group kicked off the segment with a touching performance of Fleet Foxes’ White Winter Hymnal along with renditions of Don’t Worry Be Happy and Stand By Me. Their final performance of MC6’s For the Longest Time had audiences snapping their fingers and swaying along.
Battle 4
Photograph by Dominique Aquino Joaquin
Moving away from acapella, Diversity, a band of three Serco employees, also performed that evening. Goffredo Puccetti, Assistant Professor of Practice of Visual Arts, then followed up with two solo performances followed up by a performance accompanied by Leonid Kuzmenko, class of 2018. His performances were dedicated to his wife, Francesca, who sat among the audience often caught smiling and shying away from the gaze of grinning audience members.
The group performances concluded with Campus Cats, an NYUAD band consisting of members, Goffredo Puccetti, Leonid Kuzmenko, Godfried Toussaint, Sunil Kumar, Mallory S.E. Roberts and Aire Radvee. Their performances had the crowd cheering and students laughing as Puccetti rocked his guitar, jumping on and off stage as students clapped and even sang along as Radvee raised her hands, inviting audience members to sing along.
Battle 5
Photograph by Dominique Aquino Joaquin
The Battle of the Bands ended with cheers and laughter at the Campus Cats’ performance. But the night didn’t end there: the evening’s DJ Showcase began right after, featuring students of the Electronic Music Performance class taught by Omar Shoukri, Technical Instructor and Advisor of the Arts and New Media. The DJ showcases ended after midnight yet the dance floor remained filled with students dancing against flashing lights and psychedelic TV displays.
Winners of the Battle of the Bands will be announced later this week by the NYUAD Music Program.
Dominique Joaquin is Deputy Features Editor. Email her at
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