Street Chant win inaugural Critics' Choice Prize

By Hugh Sundae

Street Chant's Emily Littler (left) and Billie Rogers on stage at the Kings Arms. Photo / Herald Online
Street Chant's Emily Littler (left) and Billie Rogers on stage at the Kings Arms. Photo / Herald Online

Street Chant can no longer claim to be "completely broke" after winning $5000 worth of new gear as part of their prize haul at Wednesday night's Critics' Choice Prize.

The newly established 'Tui' was brought in this year as part of the New Zealand Music Awards, and is designed to highlight up and coming artists.

The shortlist, announced last month, also included Home Brew and the band with this week's number one album - The Naked and Famous.

Each played a 30 minute set at Auckland's Kings Arms Tavern before an audience of fans, industry, and the 13 assorted music-industry-types who were to decide the winners.

To be eligible, bands can't have released an album during or before the judging period, or have been nominated for any previous New Zealand Music Award. However, since the judging period closed both Street Chant and The Naked and Famous have released albums.

In a nod to The Naked and Famous' recent success, (winning the APRA Silver Scroll Award and their debut album Passive Me, Aggressive You entering the charts this week at number one), both of the other bands made reference to them being considered favourites.

"We're here to win The Naked and Famous' awards ya'll," Tom Scott of Home Brew said between songs. In a crowd-pleasing move, Street Chant performed The Naked and Famous' ubiquitous single Young Blood.

Street Chant's performance was typically raucous, with an audience member invading the stage towards the end of the set, knocking over cymbal stands and convulsing madly. Singer/guitarist Emily Littler appeared unfazed.

At the end of their last song, You Do The Math, she threw her guitar into the audience before a fan picked it up and, curiously, appeared to know how to play it.

Home Brew squeezed onto the stage with a full live band set-up including DJ, rhythm section and saxophone. Their tight performance was already getting the crowd dancing before they got to their second song - b-Net radio hit Benefit.

Their set was peppered with hilarious moments of brilliance from Scott, including an a capella rhyme to "a special lady in the audience" and various expletive-filled swipes as music TV channels.

But the talking point of the night was how the judges would deal with the conundrum of The Naked and Famous - a band who weeks ago could be considered 'up and coming', but now seem well established.

Ultimately Street Chant prevailed, with the Auckland three-piece (with Littler wearing a 'Giz Funding' t-shirt) looking genuinely shocked by the win - later tweeting "Hey c***z we just won a nz music award...pretty LOLOLOLOLOOLOL thnkz for the memories etc homebrew should have"

Their full prize haul includes recording time at York Street Studios, $5,000 worth of equipment from NZ Rockshop and mentoring from Dave McLaughlin from McLaughlin Law, Lydia Parsons from Entertainment Accounting, touring guru Brent Eccles and various members of the Music Managers Forum.

"We should get ten minutes to go around the Rockshop with a shopping trolley like one of those competitions," Littler later joked.

*See Street Chant's performance here.

*More performances from the night will be uploaded over the coming days, follow Herald Online Entertainment on twitter to receive links.

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