Winners: Beneath The Silence won the Smokefree Rockquest title, as well as $10,000 in musical equipment from NZ Rock Shops, the recording of a single at York Street Studios in Auckland, plus NZ On Air funding to the value of $10,000, and guaranteed support from the Edge music network for the band's first single.
The 2008 Smokefree Rockquest came to a stunning climax on Friday, September 5 as local favourites Beneath The Silence took the crown for New Zealand’s most prestigious music competition.
It was far from a landslide victory though, as each of the six bands proved why they had made it to the final. If it wasn’t for the local support, the result may have gone to any of the 6 entrants who all contributed significantly, with their unique styles and music to this very entertaining evening.
The competition opened up with the Stray Dogs of Wellington, who describe their genre as ‘Ginger Funk’. They put on a strong first set and set the night under way with a bang. As the first act, they set the bar high for the following performers. Their mixture of rock music and funk combined with funky dance moves by the radiant lead singer, who was very interactive with the crowd.
The second act was singer songwriter from Roturua, Jayme Fitzgerald who proved to be the biggest contrast of the night with a soft rock style that varied greatly to the harder up tempo music of her fellow competitors. She opened up her set with 2 mellow acoustic based songs and finished with a dramatic Piano ballad that probably deserved a more heartfelt response than it got.
Third act New York Minutes were a distant second in the crowd popularity contest to Beneath The Silence but proved to be a magnetic act nonetheless, the sheer force of their music had the whole hall vibrating and mixed with their fast tempo, were reminiscent of a giant freight train racing past you at 120 kilometres an hour.
Following the interval, it was time for local favourites, Beneath The Silence to take the stage. They did not disappoint! Nor did the crowd, who after some encouragement from the host, replaced their frantic cheering with a buzzing high hum. It wasn’t hard to notice the change in the mosh pit, which had swelled up to about double its original size.
The music of Beneath The Silence is reminiscent of a tribal chant, with the beat of drums and the sting of guitar accompanied by a high pitched unintelligible scream. This band has a certain charisma to it and isn’t hard to see why their following is so popular, their magnetic presence resonated with the entire audience, even those who aren’t particularly fond of the Screamo genre.
The 5th competitor for the night was Wanaka’s The Slur Tones, the eventual runners up and winners of the Best Song Award. They were fronted by a lead singer who resembled Elton John, with a massive pair of sunglasses and a matching bright yellow suit. Their music was great, reminiscent of the garage rock revival that was popular earlier in the decade, there is good reason why they won the award for the Best Song, but as far as interaction went they were very sterile and detached from the crowd as opposed to the other acts of the night who were very intimate with their performances.
Jicky Chan of Kawerau were the final competitors for the night and they proved to be the most entertaining and colourful entrants. Their music was hard to define, with a hard rock sound incorporated with electronic with a very Pacifica feel too it. Jicky Chan definitely had the best dances move for the night with their song Jackie Chan vs. Dragon Ball Z. They were probably the most unique band of the night, and that was no small feat.
Guests Elemeno P and Goodnight Nurse were also enjoyable additions to the Night, playing all of their biggest hits and some new songs as well. If there was one downside to the night it was the crowd, it wasn’t a big turnout with many empty seats and only about 50 people in the moshpit. The crowd was also very impatient as well, at least at the beginning, with lots of moving around, and they seemed to be more interested in the spot prizes then the music itself. However, to their credit, as the night moved along, they proved to be a more than willing audience, especially following the monster set by favourites Beneath The Silence.
Overall, it was a very entertaining with night, with six competitors who deserved to win and I’m sure will all prove to be a part of a bright future for New Zealand’s music scene.