If you don’t know about Solar Battle of the Bands, then you probably haven’t been to Intersolar North America in the last three years. Sponsored by multiple solar companies (see below), Solar Battle of the Bands is the new annual “must-attend” event where the solar industry comes together in one room and celebrates music and solar.
“Battle” is really a misnomer. While it is a competition, it’s more like a solar industry musical love fest where employees of selected solar companies put down their tool belts and telephones and raise their guitars, keyboards, saxophones, violins, and voices on one stage.
SBOB began three years ago when current evening hosts Johan Alfsen of QuickMount PV and Christy McCarthy of Creotecc recognized each other’s personal musical talents and realized that they weren’t the only ones in the solar industry who could swing a guitar.
Even though Alfsen and McCarthy were representatives of competing solar mounting solutions, they put that fact aside, got their companies involved and organized the first SBOB in 2011 at Minna art gallery. SolarCity, Sungevity, and Zep Solar, and SunPower played to a packed 500 max capacity venue that was fairly bare bones. There was music, an open bar, basic lighting, and enthusiastic solar people, but no food or swag beyond tee-shirts for sale. By audience paper ballot, SolarCity’s “The SoulMetrics” won that year, but the entire event was also a winner. with all agreeing that the show must go on to next year.
For Round 2 in 2012, SBOB moved from an art gallery to The Mezzanine, a nightclub with two levels and 1,000 person max capacity, and it was sold out again. The bands also seemed more serious and practiced, and while it was close, the 2012 trophy went to Zep Solar’s energizing “Zep, The Band."
With 2013’s Round 3, the event has now matured into a likely permanent Intersolar tradition. It’s the party to attend during the show, and so popular that you can only attend if you're invited by one of the sponsoring companies. It’s still at the Mezzanine, but in addition to the open bar and tee-shirt sales, there are now swag gift bags, h'orderves, glow lights, and bouncers--just in case solar groupies get out of hand. And rather than paper ballots, attendees voted via iPad voting stations.
What hasn’t changed is that same solar community feeling throughout the crowd and on stage. Solar leasing competitors SolarCity and Sungevity (pictured at top of blog) “battled” with their songs, competing against Zep Solar, SMA, and Inovateus Solar’s “Rev. Ray & the Everlasting Incentives” (pictured above). In the end, Sungevity’s “The Killa Watts” won the voting for 2013, but all the bands deserved awards for their professional-sounding musical talents and courage.
I’d also like to give a shout-out to the SBOB sponsors for seeing the value in these solar community building events. Motech, SunEarth, Burndy, AEE Solar, SMA, Inovateus, SolarPro, Solar Power World, SEI, and NABCEP, you all rock for supporting this new solar industry tradition.
So, now that SBOB has developed into an annual institution, how will it grow next year? I have one suggestion:
Every year the SBOB crowd has been warmed up by Christy McCarthy’s original solar anthem “Rise and Shine,” and from original music by QuickMount’s house band led by Alfsen. Otherwise, the competitors’ music selections have always been great covers song renditions.
For Round 4, my suggestion is that each solar competitor come to the stage with one original solar-themed song that can inspire not only our industry, but perhaps the world. It’s time for a new and original “Here Comes the Sun.” And wouldn’t it be amazing if it became a hit and written and played by solar industry people?
Finally, if you’re wondering if you've ever done business with any 2103’s SBOB stars, the list of band members is below. If you know any of them, give them a shout:
Sungevity: The Killa Watts, (2013 Winner)
Inovateus Solar: Rev. Ray & the Everlasting Incentives (Second Place)
SMA: The Voltaics
SolarCity: The SoulMetrics
Zep Solar: Zep, The Band
House Band - Quick Mount PV: Northerner and the Rafters
Tor Valenza a.k.a. “Solar Fred” advises solar companies on marketing, communications, and branding. Want more solar marketing info? Sign up for the Solar Fred Marketing Newsletter, or contact Solar Fred through UnThink Solar. You can also follow @SolarFred on Twitter.
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