Uptown Sounds is about the music, and the experience

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Doctors’ lead vocalist Jonathan Joubert sings on the stage of Uptown Sounds battle of the bands. The group emerged victorious from its first public performance.  (Catie Sanders, Loyola News Service)

By Catie Sanders, Loyola Student News Service

It was slightly windy and rainy, but that didn’t stop the music of Uptown Sounds battle of the bands from sizzling. The event at Evans Park in the Freret neighborhood on Sunday, March 31, gave eight bands the chance to take the stage at the festival-style event.

The winner was chosen by audience vote. Doctors, a dark-pop band, received a cash prize and a spot on the lineup for Freret Street Festival on Saturday (3:45 on Alder Hotel Stage at Valence Street).

Sebastian Duzian, bassist for Colorblock, closes out Uptown Sounds alongside his band. (Catie Sanders, Loyola News Service)

Competitors included Eamon and the Other Colors, Cosma Dog, Lonelygrrl, Anne Elise Hastings and Her Revolving Cast of Characters, Sympathy Wizard, John Scott and Colorblock.

This was Doctors’ first performance. According to Mike Taylor, the band’s guitarist, Uptown Sounds is a step in the right direction for less-experienced bands. There were nearly 200 people in and out of the park listening to the music, and 161 votes were cast.

“It’s a super relaxed environment. Everyone’s out here chilling, literally,” said Taylor. “No one has an agenda or anything. People are just out here listening to local bands. They’re just here for the music.”

Uptown Sounds started as Fool’s Fest, a Loyola University New Orleans campus event that took place annually around April Fool’s Day. Hoping to grow the festival, Loyola music industry students Morgan Badurak, Riley Battenfield, Lauryn Kidd, Kate Schultz, Nicole Tabora and Victoria Wilson decided to move the event off-campus.

“We’re excited to finally get it up and running,” said Kidd. “We look forward to it growing every year from now on and hope to grow the committee as well, get more people involved and excited about this project.”

For the students, Uptown Sounds gave young professionals in the industry a taste of what it’s like to put on a music festival, just on a smaller scale, according to co-producer Schultz.

“You experience a lot more than you would if you were just interning at a festival,” she said. “It’s a lot more of an immersive experience.”

Gaining experience with everything from marketing to artist hospitality, Uptown Sounds gave the production team a chance to make mistakes, sharpen their problem-solving skills and learn the ins and outs of the music industry. For the production team, the best part of the festival was seeing their efforts pay off.

“The people who were there actually cared about the music,” Schultz said. “It’s fun when you have a dedicated team of people. Even if the event went not well, we would have put the same time and effort into it.”

The Uptown Sounds production team, (from left) Morgan Badurak, Nicole Tabora, Victoria Wilson, Kate Schultz and Riley Battenfield, pose for a photo on stage. (Catie Sanders, Loyola News Service)

Had anything gone awry with the festival, Loyola University instructor Mike Twillmann was ready to step in, but said it was never necessary.

“They did all of it. They did it all,” he said. “It’s running smooth and going well because of their efforts.”

As for the chilly weather, Twillmann said it adds to the learning experience. “Can’t more of a real experience than this,” he said.

Able to call Uptown Sounds a success, Schultz and the rest of the team are looking forward to next year.

“We’d like to have a battle of the bands closed by a big touring act,” said Schultz. “It’ll be bigger and better and more fun next year.”

The Loyola Student News Service features reporters from advanced-level journalism classes at Loyola University New Orleans, directed by faculty advisers.

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