The Earth is a Man takes home first place at Mayfest’s Battle of the Bands

Jessica Floum

After competing in Mayfest’s Battle of the Bands at Tommy Nevin’s Pub Thursday and Friday night, The Earth is a Man beat out seven other bands for the chance to perform at Dillo Day on May 26.

“Dillo Day has been a part of my life for years,” bassist Max Allison (WCAS ’11) said. “We’re pumped.”

Allison played alongside guitarist Zach Robinson, a Bienen senior; guitarist Doug Kaplan (Comm ’11); and drummer Paul Birhanu, a senior at Columbia College. Formed in 2009, The Earth is a Man played its first show at Nevin’s exactly three years before this year’s Battle of the Bands. The band members said they got their name from a surrealist painting by artist Roberto Matta.

Robinson said The Earth is a Man is an “instrumental band that’s experimental in method but accessible by melody.”

The band is inspired by groups including Explosions in the Sky and Brian Eno, he said.

“We always love playing at Northwestern,” Kaplan said. “It’s really fun to play for our friends.”

The band recently played shows in Chicago and has developed a lengthy set. One of the challenges of playing at Battle of the Bands, Allison said, was condensing their music into a 25-minute set. After the band played the full 25 minutes, the audience called for an encore. Mayfest decided to let the band play for another two minutes, making The Earth is a Man the only band to get an encore.

“Their music is universally appreciated without being the lowest common denominator,” Weinberg senior Tom Schroeder said. “They excited you on a really basic level. Even keeping a beat with them is exciting.”

The band beat seven other acts, including second place-winner Jet Jaguar and third place-winner The Aurelia Trio. Cool Brandon and the Brandons, J