Seven local bands brought their diverse musical talent to the stage of Club Congress to compete for a chance to perform at Dusk Music Festival on Nov. 13 to 14.
The Dusk 2021 Battle of the Bands included Black Gryph0n & Baasik, Crashing Saturn, Lo Blow, Mutual Friend, Noah Martin Band, Stripes and The Basements who all performed Friday, Oct. 1, in hopes of winning the spot to open at the upcoming festival.
Each band performed a selection of their original songs and members of the audience were able to participate along with the judges by voting for their favorite performers of the night.
The judging panel consisted of Page Repp, one of the original founders of the Dusk Music Festival, Ben Andersen, the art director and associate talent buyer for the Rialto Theatre and David Slutes, the entertainment and marketing director for Hotel Congress.
According to Repp, there were several different factors that went into deciding who deserved the winning spot such as the band's technical ability, songwriting skills, originality, energy on stage, engagement with the crowd and crowd support.
After analyzing the crowd's votes and the judges scores, The Basements, a local band of students from the University of Arizona, took home the $1,000 prize and will be the first performance to open on the main stage at the Dusk Music Festival 2021.
Repp said The Basements stood out for how well they were able to command the stage and make the crowd feel.
“All the different elements of the band performed really well together so you could tell that they practice a lot and have been together for awhile and that they work really well as a band,” Repp said.
Sophia Rankin, a fellow musician and MC for the Battle of the Bands, was excited to see The Basements' genuine reaction to winning and how much this opportunity meant to them.
“My first reaction was just joy because they got on stage and they were hugging me because they were so surprised they had won,” Rankin said.
In 2019, Rankin and her band, Sophia Rankin & The Sound, also competed in the Dusk Battle of the Bands event and are now going on to perform for their second time in the upcoming festival.
After many live shows and concerts, Rankin said she still considers her 2019 Battle of the Bands experience to have been one of her favorite performances she's ever done because of the support she felt from the crowd.
“It's a really wonderful experience to bring artists together to help them bond even in a competition and remind them we love you, we support you and we just want people to hear you even if you don't win this thing,” Rankin said.
Getting local bands involved is also incredibly important to those working with Dusk, according to Repp.
“Hopefully this gives them that boost and that confidence to go out there and keep working their craft and getting better and just go on to bigger and better things,” Repp said.
Both Repp and Rankin said they were looking forward to seeing The Basements open the festival and progress as artists as well.
The Basements members include UA students Sebastian Driver, lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist, Brandon Pors, lead guitarist, Dylan Goode, bass guitarist, Alex Sciortino, drummer and Martin Calderon Jr., backup vocalist and keyboard player.
All five members said they are still in shock that they had the opportunity to perform at Battle of the Bands and take home the winning prize.
“We didn’t even think that we were going to get into the Battle of the Bands. We didn’t think we were going to be doing anything close to this within the year,” Goode said.
Back in March, The Basements decided to take what they had been practicing in the small quarters of Goode’s basement, to their first live performance on the University of Arizona Mall.
Since this performance, the band has only performed three other live shows and entered to play at the Battle of the Bands event on a whim the day before applications were due.
They received news that they were one of the seven bands chosen to compete a week prior to the battle and they said they were thankful to even be considered to play with other talented local artists.
“I was always someone who was in the crowd and for the first time I got to be on stage and I felt really blessed to be there and it was just really unbelievable to meet all these awesome artists that were kind of cut from the same cloth as us,” Calderon said.
The group is looking forward to spending the next few weeks leading up to the event practicing nightly, performing at other venues and releasing their original music to streaming platforms.
Dusk will be the largest crowd the band has played for to date.
“All of the nerves go away when we see all of our fans and our friends. When they come and show up, that is what makes the biggest difference because we see them at all of our shows and we have a good time and we feed off their energy,” Driver said.
The Basements have upcoming events happening before DUSK at the House of Bards on Oct. 9, and at Arte Bella on Oct. 16.
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