Battle of the Bands 2012

8 Sep

If there is anything to be learned from the two nights and 12 hours of rock that took place this last weekend at the 2012 NZ Battle of the Bands finale, it is that we, as a nation, really love funk, metal, and any combination thereof. Despite the variety of performances and genres taking place during these two evenings —including ska, reggae, synth-pop, electric blues, acoustic folk and punk-derived indie— the aesthetics that dominated the final were overwhelmingly those of loud, jammy funk, metal and funk/metal hybrids, with tracks often crossing the five-minute mark, replete with intricate guitar solos, driving bass lines and double-kicked drums.

 In the end, first prize for the competition was taken by the hooky, energetic funk stylings of Ratsmagic, an Auckland-based 4-piece fronted by violinist/mandolinist Meghan Glue and guitarist Kriston Batistich. In addition to their rewards of equipment, apparel, and mentoring, they will also receive recording time at York St. Studios. With any luck, I hope we’ll be hearing more from these guys in the next few months. Other standout acts include the Auckland-based Mad Crept – an alt/indie act that make brilliant use of sonic ambiance and sharp, angular melodies, the smooth Whangarei-based synth-rock band Coda, old-school metal band Stonehurst from Christchurch, and Auckland indie-rockers Troubled Frank.

 Overall, considering that live rock is going through a notable slump thanks in part to a lack of general institutional or governmental support, I would say that this year’s Battle of the Bands has performed brilliantly in several regards, not least of which is the opportunity for NZ bands to meet and form networks with each other. Next year’s battle will be held earlier in the year, with its first heats happening in April. I truly encourage anyone with an act to get registered —I for one will be happy to check it out again.

By Camilo Diaz Pino, photographs by Nikki Clendinning

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