The band that won Whanganui's Smokefreerockquest is already doing gigs and looking for more, Te Paerata Tichbon says.

He and Michael Peterson played two songs as Why Vibrations at the Royal Wanganui Opera House on Saturday night. They are classed as a band despite being a duo, because Michael was playing the drums. Both go to Whanganui High School.

They played two songs in their seven minutes on stage. Joe's Wonder Time is psychedelic funk with a tinge of reggae, Te Paerata said. Vent Now is more emotional, and deals with something that has been worrying him.

Psychedelic funk is a good description of their music - sometimes intense and sometimes mellow and spaced out, with funky guitar grooves.


The two write their material together. Michael plays guitar as well as drums, and they collaborate on melody. Te Paerata writes most of the lyrics.

They've been playing together since September last year.

"We have a mind connection. You know when you're jamming and it all just feels right, like we just both know exactly when to build up and when each other are going to stop. It's awesome," Michael said.

Te Paerata has a fortnightly gig at Whanganui's Delicious cafe and six videos up on YouTube as Fortitude. The two have also played at Ratana celebrations, at Mint for Rocktober and at the Caboodle in the central city in January.

Both would like to make a career out of music, and Te Paerata is planning to start a bachelor of commercial music degree at Victoria University next year.

Playing to 150 in the opera house was enjoyable but lost liveliness because everyone was sitting down. That is not ideal for a musician who likes to "feed off the audience", Te Paerata said.

"Ten people standing and dancing and having a good time is equal to 100 people sitting."

There were only three bands in this year's regional finals, but 12 soloists. Singer-songwriter Briana Allan, from Nga Tawa Diocesan School, was the winner and also judged best vocalist.

It was her third effort at the rockquest and the first time she had got into the finals, so she was very happy.

"I love performing. It's what I live for, practically," she said.

She plays guitar and piano and writes her own material, which can be either chilled or sassy. Her song, Good Girl, was based around a line seen on Facebook: "You can't blame a girl for trying."

She's performed before 2000 at Christian camps, and said the opera house had good acoustics and singing there was a buzz.

"It was really cool. Considering I'm not actually from Whanganui, the crowd was super supportive."

She is also interested in musical theatre but may study law next year. She wanted to thank her teachers, Lynn Whiteside and Marco Perry.

On Saturday night surf-rock group Fusion Five, from Whanganui High School, was judged second best band, with Super Ensemble from the same school third. Madie from Whanganui City College came second in the solo section.

All those judged first and second will now record 15 minutes of original music video. It will be judged in August and the best will compete in the national rockquest final in Auckland on September 24. The prizes are thousands of dollars worth of music gear and recording.

The best lyric performed on Saturday was written by Rangitikei College's Tia Wright.

Fusion Five got the Dominate Style Award, bass player Bayley Blythe from Fusion Five got the musicianship award, and Jack and Kaleb from Whanganui High School wrote the best song. Coe and Price from Whanganui Girls' College were the top choice of texters.