Bespin has won the NZ On Air Critics' Choice Prize ahead of the 2015 Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards.

The Auckland band was one of three acts to perform at Auckland's Kings Arms last night before a packed crowd and a judging panel of 10 music critics.

In an evening of high-calibre sets, both fellow nominees New Gum Sarn and Boycrush impressed. But Bespin's tight, transportive delivery, and dark, ambient, songs got the trio the win.

New Gum Sarn's set delivered improvised sections, and a heavier sound.

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Boycrush (aka Alistair Deverick) brought a fun, high energy set, full of great grooves and surprise guest vocalists including Madeira, Mimsy Cable, and long time collaborator - and 2012 Critics' Choice winner - Chelsea Jade (formerly Watercolours).

But it was Bespin which took home the $10,000 recording and music video grant from NZ On Air.

Bespin lead vocalist Jonathan Lee was brief but effusive in his acceptance speech: "I promise we'll use this well, to record an album! Thank you very much!"

The trio will be back at the Kings Arms next Thursday night to celebrate the release of debut EP Osiris, which was recorded in Lee's attic.


Now in its sixth year, the NZ On Air Critics' Choice Prize recognises up-and-coming Kiwi music talent and potential future music awards winners.

Previous shortlisted artists include The Naked and Famous and Homebrew while the likes of Kimbra, Sheep, Dog & Wolf and Randa have taken out the laurels.

"My congratulations go to all three acts who delivered exceptional performances," says Recorded Music NZ CEO Damian Vaughan.

"As always, the critics can only select one winner and Bespin is thoroughly deserving of this year's accolade."

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NZ On Air music manager Brendan Smyth says: "The quality of this year's NZ On Air Critic's Choice Prize finalists is yet another reminder of the talent we have in our local industry. We look forward to following Bespin's promising career and seeing what they do with the NZ On Air grant."

In addition to the grants,Bespin also gains professional guidance and advice from several music industry heavyweights.

Bespin's guitarist Jonathan Lee during the band's prize-winning performance.
Bespin's guitarist Jonathan Lee during the band's prize-winning performance.