Playing to thousands of people seemed improbable to Sam Coplin when his original audience was a set of gardening tools and unused furniture layered with dust.

Coplin, 21, never imagined that jamming in his garage with strangers would lead anywhere, but jamming formed friendships and the band Locochino. From that point, the members were serious about their music.

Locochino has played in roughly 50 shows and has been the headliner in many of them. This Friday, Locochino travels to its next show for a battle of the bands event called Destination Okeechobee.

Destination Okeechobee marks Locochino’s most notable career performance yet. This battle of the bands provides an opportunity to win a spot in the Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival. Eight bands will battle at 7 p.m. in Jacksonville, Florida, at the venue Jack Rabbits for a chance to play in the festival.

The festival, which runs March 4 to 6, is already attracting lots of attention with big-name acts like Mumford & Sons, Kendrick Lamar, Skrillex, The Avett Brothers and Mac Miller.

Coplin said playing at the festival would be surreal.

“We would get to play in the same lineup as huge acts I never saw myself being a part of,” he said. “I think there’s an element of prestige that goes with it that you don’t get with a local show.”

Getting into the battle of the bands wasn’t easy, Locochino’s manager Dave Johnson said.

Prior to the battle, roughly 800 bands around the nation entered into the first round. Bands won by having the most likes and shares on photos they submitted to the music festival’s Facebook page. Only 32 bands advanced to the second round.

Battle of the bands marks the second step. Four venues were established in Florida in Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando and St. Petersburg, with eight bands assigned to each location and only one moving on from each. The winner is crowned by the audience’s participation and votes. 

“I know it’s a lot to ask for people to go to Jacksonville and vote for us,” Johnson said. “It’s a big deal to go out of your way, and we’re doing everything we can do in our part in helping them get out there.”

Promotional group Chakra 6 will be providing free Locochino T-shirts and carpool rides to Jacksonville. This plan hopes to ensure higher attendance and make Locochino’s crowd noticed at the event.

Rides will be given out at The Jam at 5 p.m. A pre-party for all Locochino supporters will be held there at 3 p.m. Tickets to the battle of the bands cost $10, and people who attend have the chance of winning one of two free tickets to the music festival.

Locochino regularly performs at The Jam, and the venue’s co-owner, Blake Briand, said Locochino has really become more mature musically since he first heard the group perform.

“Their music invigorates a crowd and reaffirms the reason on why people go out to hear live music,” Briand said.

Winners of Destination Okeechobee also receive $500 and have the opportunity to network with the musical groups that attend the Okeechobee music festival.    

“The professional networking we could do would cause us to get serious,” Johnson said. “If you never have that stage to show people what you can do, what’s there to show for?”

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