Maren Alford: Making Dreams Come True (Part 4)
Note: This is the final post of a special four-part series by Gretsch guest blogger, Maren Alford.
And the group who will be moving on to the finals…is…NOT UR GIRLFRENZ!
We definitely didn’t consider ourselves “legends” (and who would when you’re only 12), but my band, Not Ur Girlfrenz, heard about a local talent competition called “Battle of the Legends” and decided to enter. It sounded like fun, and was being held at an awesome new restaurant/music club, Lava Cantina. We really wanted a chance to play there, so my mom sent in our press kit. We were so excited to be one of the 12 artists chosen to compete!
The contest was open to bands, duos, singer-songwriters, etc., of all ages, so we didn’t have a super-high expectation going into the first round. We did our best, performed three songs, and to our shock and excitement we moved on to the semi-finals! In the semi-finals we would be competing against two other artists for a spot in the finals, everyone performing two songs. We learned one new song for this next round and chose one from our set list that the judges hadn’t heard before. We worked for weeks on those two songs and really had them down–we were feeling pretty good that even if we didn’t move on this time, we would still have a good show.
Then we got a call that they were moving the semi-finals to Lava Cantina’s main stage (the earlier round had been on the small rooftop deck). All three of us were super excited (and pretty nervous) because the main stage is HUGE: about seven feet tall, has amazing lighting, a jumbotron, and has hosted some great, well-known performers. As with any performance, I was under a lot of pressure to play my parts correctly and keep good time. But it was also REALLY hot outside (this is summer in TX) and I was afraid my hands might get too sweaty and drop a stick (I had a stick slip around in my hand during a drum solo about a year before because it was so hot and didn’t want to relive that moment!).
The day of the show, we got there an hour early to set up and have sound check. I walked up the steps to the stage and looked out at where the audience will be–it’s a lot bigger than on the rooftop. I’m just thinking to myself about how amazing this performance is going to be (and hoping no one falls off this gigantic stage). Then I walked over to the drum platform and saw that it was above my hip! Getting up on that platform took some doing, but I made it.
After we got my whole kit set up, I sat down to make the final adjustments and realized very quickly that the sun reflected perfectly off of the ride cymbal and into my eyes while I play (summer in TX, right?) but thought “that’s ok, it will probably move by showtime” (or at least I hoped it would). We ran through our sound check and everything went well. We were ready to go.
Not quite. As I said before, we had been asked to prepare two songs for this round. But right after we finished our sound check the engineer told us there was a change in plans – they wanted us to play three songs instead. I guess they threw this little “plot twist” into the contest to see how everyone would react, or see if it threw anyone off. A few days before the contest we talked about maybe needing an encore song (or at least planned for one just in case), so luckily we had a plan for that “surprise” third song. With “Plan B” in place, NOW we were ready! We had time for a few photos at the stage door, then it was time to go on.
The announcer said she would make her intro really quick, but it seemed like it went on forever before we got the OK to play. When I sat down at the kit, my nerves immediately melted away because now I was in my zone. We played our first two songs and everything went really well (except that something happened with the sound and I couldn’t really hear anyone except myself on the first song). I think the crowd was really enjoying us, but I couldn’t really tell because couldn’t hear them, and my vision was blocked most of the time by the combination of stage lights and my flying hair. Before the last song, I played a drum solo while our guitarist/lead singer switched guitars, and then we started our final song. It was a good thing I brought some extra sticks because in the very beginning of that song one of my sticks slipped out of my hand (summer in TX, remember), but I just grabbed an extra I’d stashed on the bass drum and no one noticed – YES.
Before we knew it, we were hearing the cheers of the crowd–we’d had a great performance! It was amazing to play on that HUGE stage, even though the whole thing kind of ended up as a blur since I was completely in the zone. After hearing comments from the judges, we relaxed, ate popsicles, visited with our friends who had come to cheer us on, and watched the other two artists perform. We really had some tough competition.
After the final band performed, they called everyone back on stage and we lined up for the judge’s decision. We weren’t really expecting us to move on to the finals, we were just so grateful for the amazing opportunity to be a part of this contest. But then to our complete shock, we heard “The group that will be moving on the finals…is…NOT UR GIRLFRENZ”. My world went into slow motion. I just kind of stood there dazed for a minute as it began to set in that we won. Liv turned to me yelling, “WHAT? WHAT JUST HAPPENED?”. We made our way across the stage, shaking hands and hugging the others. I looked down and my mom’s jumping around and cheering, everyone’s screaming, and realized that we’re going to the finals. We’re the youngest artists in the competition and we’re moving on to the finals!
Latest NOT UR GIRLFRENZ news:
Since writing this blog, Maren and NOT UR GIRLFRENZ won the “Battle of the Legends” competition, winning over established bands many times their age! Watch a fun “fan appreciation” highlight video below that captured the excitement of the evening.
And after winning the “Battle of the Legends” at the Lava Cantina, NOT UR GIRLFRENZ headlined their own show there, and recently returned to open for headliner Jaret Reddick at the venue’s “Winter Wonderland” show. Jaret also invited the girls to join him onstage during his set to perform a couple of fun Christmas songs together!
Maren and the band also performed at the “Women Who Rock” show at The Curtain Club in Dallas in December. They opened for the former lead singer of the all-female rock band Vixen.
NOT UR GIRLFRENZ will be releasing their very first original music early in 2018, and will also have some exciting summer tour news to share with their fans. Stay tuned to their website, Facebook page, and Twitter account for all the latest news and information.
Feature photo by Concert Fotos.