By Ilona Wallace
Harken to the choir of architects! Get a load of the tipsy teaching students mic’d up and overdriven – look at the little one with the tambourine! Aw man, adult battles of the bands are the best.
Take whatever vision you have of your high school regional band contest – where some tie-n-blazer oboe ensemble always rocked up and were so devastated for not placing – and forget it.
The National Campus Band Competition is the big kids’ playground. There are $12000 worth of prizes on offer. And if you want to talk cred, this is the comp that kick-started Eskimo Joe, The Vasco Era, Jebediah, and Transport.
Just think, their 2012 equivalent could be suffering alongside you in a tute, because the only real condition of entry is that at least one band member must be enrolled at a participating tertiary institution.
In South Australia, that means either Adelaide University or UniSA.
We have 17 UniSA entrants heading into this Hunger Games of sound, leaping for the jugular in their twenty-minute sets. The heats at The Academy (20-22 August) will decide which UniSA-ian gets to fight dirty for musical glory in the state final on September 8.
After crowning the South Australian campus kings and queens, the interstate rivals will be flown in for the national final at Fowler’s Live on September 28.
Matt Vecchio, sound engineer and all-round entertainment industry dude, has been spruiking the competition for a while. Working closely with The Academy, he’s keen to see more bands compete this year after only seven participated in 2011.
Despite the prizes, it’s been a tough gig just getting names on the list.
“Some bands don’t really like band competitions,” Vecchio said. “They feel that they don’t want to compete because it’s meant to be about art, and they don’t like the idea of being judged. There are also people who just can’t be bothered.”
On top of that, there is the internal conflict of a band split between two universities. Many divided bands prefer to register under Adelaide.
UniLife Promotions Officer Tom Wilson recognises the problem. Both he and Vecchio see it as an issue of tradition, rather than lack of interest.
“Adelaide Uni has a stronger affiliation with live music, having had the well-established UniBar as a home venue for 10-plus years,” Wilson said.
“Also, Adelaide University has the Elder Conservatorium of Music on campus, a very well-regarded music institution, which adds further ties to the music scene.”
Hopefully a few more Acoustic Thursdays at the Academy (not to mention less of a campus spread once Magill is demolished) will increase undergraduate pride and help inspire more SuperTAFE musicians to contribute.
As for the bands involved this year, they’re pretty bloody brillo.
Seventeen Fifty Seven always delight with their rousing brand of funk-rock, and the Folko-oh-noes take gypsy-chic to a new level with smashing vocals and stellar double bass.
Vecchio, glad to be free of judging responsibilities, has picked Horror My Friend, Little Two Eyes, and Bokchoy Boys as his top three.
Horror My Friend got to the state final last year and are keen as beans to get back into the game.
Featuring two UniSA students, Josh Battersby (Multimedia) and Al Cristophel (International Relations), as well as Adelaide Uni teaching student Tom Gordon, the punk-rock outfit have two singles set to drop in September. The group is hoping to bolster the releases with a National Band Comp win.
Really, though, it’s anyone’s game. It’s a chance for a small-time band to take their amateur indie jingles and turn them into a summery jungle-pop record. Or the opportunity for a mature-age ensemble of hardened gothic rockers to hammer out a hellish EP*.
With so much to gain and only dignity to lose, what’s the harm in having a shot? Registrations may be closed for this year, but start practising now to take out the title in 2013.
For now, keep an eye out on the final bill for any of these bands – your classmates could be in any one of them.
BlackRain Upon Us / Bokchoy Boys / Causing Hammock / Collection Day / Horror My Friend / Inferiority Complex / Little Two Eyes / Love Cream / Seventeen Fifty Seven / SouthCoast / Ten Days Waiting / The Ceiling Effect / The Folko-oh-noes / The Giveaways / The Rocketeers / The Stonyfellas / Try Your Luck.
*There are no mature-age gothic rockers in this year’s competition. Sad face.