There was a surplus of musical talent at Orpheum Theater on Nov. 4 for Battle of the Bands, hosted by KJACK Radio. This was an opportunity for local bands to showcase their skills in the form of friendly competition.
Several bands competed, including Weapon of Pride, Meat Wallet, Alien Arcade and Gone Before Us. Attendees voted for their favorite band via text after each group had the opportunity to perform.
Gone Before Us — composed of Logan Warren, Ethan Bertrand, Jason Smith and Charlie Herman — was voted the winning band. The group formed more than four years ago, and originally consisted of Warren and Bertrand, who were still in high school. The two were already longtime friends, shared an interest in live music and eventually came across Smith and Herman.
The band is one of the few completely male punk bands within the local scene. Since its formation, the group has performed at many venues in cities outside of Flagstaff. With a punk-rock approach to the house music style, the group is well known in small music communities throughout the state.
Smith said the pandemic allowed many new bands to emerge, making events like Battle of the Bands especially interesting. Warren agreed the music scene has a different and unexplainable feeling now that the pandemic is not affecting live shows as much.
“I feel that shows have a different feel to them now,” Warren said. “Not really sure how to describe it though.”
Herman said during the pandemic, the band felt a sense of emptiness due to the lack of live performances. Despite this, the musicians saw Battle of the Bands as an opportunity to grow their confidence and portray their energy.
“Live music means so much to me,” Jason Smith said. “There’s nothing like the rush of adrenaline I feel the moment we start playing a set.”
The group brought this energy to the stage Nov. 4. Gone Before Us band members jumped around the stage enthusiastically while playing, and the crowd reciprocated their liveliness.
Warren said this show was one of his favorites thus far, but explained they would have felt that way regardless of winning. Despite their positive attitude toward some healthy competition, they were thrilled with the victory.
“It really means a lot to me,” Warren said. “This is what I want to do for a living, and seeing people enjoy it is just something I can’t wrap my mind around.”
Winning gave them confidence, especially in their growth, the musicians said. They added that it feels as though their high school dreams are coming to fruition.
“It really shows the progress that we have made, not just as a band, but as individuals as well,” Jason Smith said.
Group members said the audience seemed happy to support their win.
Junior Zach Smith, who attended the event, said he goes to local shows often, although he was unsure if he would enjoy Battle of the Bands due to its competitive nature.
“I was honestly just going because my friends wanted me to,” Zach Smith said. “But it was actually super cool to see all of the local talent that Flagstaff has to offer.”
Despite the competition, band members were sure to cheer for the other groups when they were not performing. More than anything, Battle of the Bands was about acknowledging local talent.
“Everyone was so supportive of each other,” Zach Smith said. “I was reminded that the scene here isn’t about being fake, or anything of that nature.”
Gone Before Us has expanded its audience since earlier shows. Starting in 2019, the group released music on streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music. This includes the album “Stop the Earth! I Want to Get Off” and several other EPs.
“All of the other bands played great, and the results of the event felt very close,” Herman said. “Overall I am really happy with how the night went.”
Battle of the Bands will likely return to Orpheum Theater next year, and musicians will have the opportunity to compete once again. However, this year’s competition was a chance for attendees, listeners and other groups to recognize Gone Before Us for years of hard work and dedication to local live music.