The Daily Iowan

Turning from Marching Band to rock band

Battle of the Bands winner the Mystics Cats horns its way into the music scene.

Mystic+Cats+perform+at+The+Blue+Moose+on+Thursday%2C+Sept.+6%2C+2018.
Mystic Cats perform at The Blue Moose on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018.

Mystic Cats perform at The Blue Moose on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018.

Wyatt Dlouhy

Wyatt Dlouhy

Mystic Cats perform at The Blue Moose on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018.

Troy Aldrich, Arts Reporter

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No original band is safe from the Mystic Cats — its sets span decades, bringing its twist to tunes from Jimi Hendrix, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, even Kanye’s 2009 hit, “Can’t Tell Me Nothing.”

“We arrange all of our own songs,” said Teagen Kiel, the band’s frontman and guitarist. “We like to call them original covers.”

The rock band with music stands won the SCOPE 2018 Battle of the Bands following the decision to take the act outside the walls of the Phi Mu Alpha fraternity house.

“It was always our dream to play for an audience at a venue,” Kiel said.

All the band’s members belong to the fraternity, where they play an annual recital. Following the recital last spring, the musicians took stage at Gabe’s in June.

Its set on Sept. 6 at Blue Moose was a display of the band’s growing confidence, which can be attributed to the members experience performing live.

“We all play in front of people, but now it’s in a bar instead of a football field; it’s a lot more intimate with a different level of energy,” said Levi Boston-Kemple, the group’s trumpet player.

The band’s experience in composition and improvisation allows for quick access to a large library of songs.

“I think we learned ‘Fire’ in one rehearsal,” said Casey Gaylord, the band’s drummer, describing the newest addition to the set.

Each member’s ability to play gives the band’s on-stage presence a more whole feel. During its version of “Let’s Dance,” by David Bowie, the band handed the featured mic from stage left to right, from brass to reeds, allowing each member a riff in the solo measures.

Kiel’s ability with the guitar coupled with vocals led the band through each tune. Playing chameleon, the inflection in his voice carried the original spirit of each tune’s creator, bringing out a familiarity amid the horns native to the Mystic Cats.

The six-piece horn section escalated in energy and volume as the set reached an end. The swaying horns, consistent with that of the game-day Marching Band, began to take a toll on the members beneath the bright lamps.

Following the cover of “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” the band was notified it had gone past its time allotment.

After investigating their sheet music, the members agreed to close with “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” Kris Kritofferson’s tune famously covered by Johnny Cash.

The conclusion was a gentle-hearted ending following the high-energy tracks that preceded it.

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