The best bands and solo rockers from Hawke's Bay secondary schools took to the Napier Municipal Theatre stage Saturday night for the Smokefree Rockquest regional final.
Twelve acts performed two songs each, hoping to one day join the big names of Kimbra, LadyHawke, Brooke Fraser, the Feelers, Nesian Mystik and Bic Runga, who have rocked the event during its 25-year history.
The winning band, Paradox from Napier Boys' High, consists of brothers Patrick and Felix Landon on guitar and drums, while their rhythm guitar player and vocalist is Jonathon Sohnge. The fourth member of Paradox is Alex Ross-Smith on bass guitar.
Jonathon said the band made a real effort to energise their stage presence on Saturday night. "It was our third try at Smokefree rockquest, although our line-up has changed and I had to play rhythm guitar as well as doing vocals since our rhythm guy left."
Second place in the band category went to Colour Sway from St John's College. Band drummer Michigan Walsh also won the Mainz Musicianship Award, earning the opportunity to be selected for the $4500 Music and Audio Institute of New Zealand Scholarship, announced at the national final.
First placed in the solo/duo category went to Madeline Bradley from Napier Girls' High School, while The Avenue (Mia Sohnge and Iris Dunn) finished second. Madeline also won the Smokefree Award For Women's Musicianship.
Her song, Dragging Me Down, was inspired by a school assignment.
"I'd been doing lots of research on drug abuse for my design portfolio and felt compelled to write a song about the effects of youth drug abuse and the emotion behind it," she said.
The former contestant in this year's X Factor said her exposure on the national television show had given her valuable experience and helped control her nerves when performing.
These winning acts also receive gear from NZ Rockshops and the opportunity to gain selection for the national final in Auckland on 28 September.
Founder and director Glenn Common said the Hawkes Bay finalists would have to work hard to make the most of the opportunity.
"They now send in videos of their original music that will be judged in August as we lead up to the national final," he said. "This process demands creativity and musical ability, as well as learning to work together as a group and developing the organisation skills they'll need if they're going to make it on the Kiwi music scene."
Other awards on the night included:
APRA Lyric Award: Timeless, Napier Girls' High School
Lowdown Best Song: Easy Target, Havelock North High School & Karamu High School
Skinny Mobile People's Choice voted by text: Blue Streak, Iona College