Every year, artists compete in Destination Okeechobee competitions throughout Florida in hopes of earning a spot on the Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival line-up. The first round, which concluded about a month ago, consisted of online voting exclusively. Flipturn, a Gainesville alternative indie group, beat out nearly 3,000 other artists and bands for their spot.
The second round of Gainesville’s Destination Okeechobee is Thursday night. This round is called the Battle of the Bands, and local and regional performers will fight for their spot on the stage at High Dive. The online voting process from the first round also determined what artists would qualify.
The show will begin at 8:30 p.m., with doors opening at 8 p.m. Tickets for the show are available at HighDiveGainesville.com for $6 in advance and at the door for $8. An additional $3 charge applies to all guests under 21.
The 2018 Battle of the Bands will feature performances from competing musicians The Savants of Soul, Retrolux, Faze Wave, N.W. Izzard, Venm and Losa Fólk. In addition to the competing bands, Battle of the Bands will feature a performance from the 2017 winner, Side Trakd, and dynamic décor from Eclectic Electric.
From indie to electronic to soul, Thursday’s performers embody a wide span of genres along with the raw talent that they’ll bring to the stage. Here’s what you need to know about each of them.
Retrolux is a Gainesville indie-electronic duo made up of Anna James and Maynard Shaye. James and Shaye have quite the story, involving a Craigslist ad, a Halloween party and some skeptical parents. Today, however, the duo has fully embraced the Gainesville music scene together, signing to Swamp Records in 2015 and releasing their first two EPs in 2017.
“With the first EP, we didn’t really understand our style, and we were just learning how to work together and write together. I feel like with the second EP we figured out a more efficient way to write songs together and get them out,” James said.
Retrolux, Shaye said, realized that they had to compete in Destination Okeechobee since The Delta Troubadours’ victory in last year’s competition. Now, James and Shaye are flooding the internet and the streets with posters and video content reaching out to fans to come out and support their journey.
“We have a lot of room to grow, and we’re excited to put in the hard work to get us there,” James said.
For an idea of what to expect from Retrolux, check out their smooth release “Silhouettes.”
Faze Wave is a four-piece alternative band from Jacksonville made up of Matthew Flynn, Jacob Nemeth, Hunter Hileman and Zachary Stickler.
The guys of Faze Wave are a modern alternative take on the beach band, combining that nostalgic, iconic beach-style with more complex instrumentals and production. This style shows best in their recently released single and accompanying music video, “Leagues.”
N.W. Izzard, with its bouncing, folk-influenced, soulful sound, takes the High Dive stage Thursday night as well. After two years of performing under the moniker N.W. Izzard, the band announced that it would change its name to Honey Hounds on the night of Battle of the Bands. Honey Hounds’ song, “Easy Like the Breeze,” is a must-hear for those new to their music.
VENM is a dubstep duo composed of Berklee College of Music student Julian Beal and UF student Nate Green. The two hone relentless bass and an overall heavy style of production to create one of the most explosive sounds to battle it out Thursday. The duo just released a clip of their next single, “Unbelievable,” to SoundCloud, a release that takes things to fiery new heights.
Losa Fólk may have the most to prove at Battle of the Bands, as he did not originally qualify. Losa Fólk, or Brady Bauer as he is known offstage, is a Gainesville native DJ who is passionate about “quality electronic music.” Originally, Bauer was the runner up in online voting, one space short of competing at the Battle of the Bands. However, after one of the original acts unexpectedly dropped out, Bauer secured a spot.
As for who he is, Bauer describes himself in a straightforward way.
“I’m a pretty average person who finds a lot of peace and happiness in music, so I’m trying to spread that to other people,” Bauer said.
Now that he has found his way into the Battle of the Bands, Bauer is excited for the possibility of performing at Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival.
“Okeechobee is home for me, in all honesty,” Bauer said. “I’ve never felt more comfortable at a music festival or just surrounded by a huge group of strangers. So, I mean, I’ve been going every year since it started. I look at it as my key festival, so to be able to go back and actually play there, it would be jaw-dropping.”
For an idea of what to expect from Losa Fólk, check out his more than 20-minute “take me to okee” mix on SoundCloud.
The Savants of Soul
The Savants of Soul are a Gainesville staple, bringing their energetic signature to stages around Gainesville and all of Florida since 2010.
The massive group is known for their dynamic performances and distinctly soulful sound. To get a taste of The Savants of Soul powerhouse style of music, check out “Second Chance Lover,” the single from the 2016 EP, “Sunday Best.”