The amps went up to 11 on July 2 when the region’s annual battle of college bands, the Smokefreerockquest, took hold at the Wellington Town Hall. Music-mad Aotea College student and budding scribe HAZEL CHILDS was in the thick of it.
‘‘When I say smoke, you say free! Smoke . . . Free! Smoke . . . Free!’’
Smokefreerockquest – Wellington Regional Finals 2011. This was it. Earlier in the day more than 50 bands battled it out to be here right now – seven chosen bands and one people’s choice band.
First up was Frank from Kapiti College. They started off with a smooth jazzy beat for their first song, called Hear Me, which later won the Best Song Award. Their second song Stay Cool got the crowd singing along.
Next up was Soviet from Hutt International Boys’ School. The lead guitarist pulled off an awe- some solo. Drummer Kit Jenkins took away the MAINZ Musicianship Award.
Now, from Wellington High, it was Alexis Cartwright’s turn and the amazing power and range in her voice definitely impressed. She won the Smokefree Women’s Musicianship Award.
UrbanRootz from Naenae College kicked off with a reggae vibe. They had perfect harmonies and moved well to the beat.
Four vocalists, all harmonising and taking solos, made allgirl band Rhythmystikz distinct.
Ash Graham from Wellington High, already a crowd favourite, then had the spotlight. With meaningful lyrics, Ash’s songwriting is very mature for his age.
The Velvet Regime, from Naenae College and Hutt Valley High School [produced] the type of music that no-one could help but mosh to.
It was soon time for The Onset. It was obvious why this band won the People’s Choice Award – the crowd went completely insane.
Coming in first place for the night was The Velvet Regime, second was Frank and third was Ash Graham.
The Velvet Regime and Frank will now compete for a place in the national finals to be held in Hamilton on September 17.
Style points: As well as the noise, Tawa College band Proximity Effect brought back the knitted-tie. Other local bands who performed in the heats, but didn’t make the regional finals were Garage Six IX (Tawa College, Aotea College), Precieder and Skyward Horizons (both Tawa College).