Forget your EFFIEs and Axis Awards, this was the one that really counted: the 2010 Battle of the Ad Bands.
Despite an alarming absence of tight leather pant, there was dirty-ass rock ‘n’ roll aplenty as The King’s Arms played host to the ad industry’s musical night of nights. Walking away with the kudos, the admiration of their peers, a handsome trophy and a swag of loot were supreme winners 'Backslash' from TBWA\Tequila. In a truly spooky example of art imitating art, Ogilvy’s 'The Hathaways' were the runner-up bridesmaids again, while Barnes Catmur’s 'Friends Electric' were highly commended.
In total eight bands staging a pitched running battle to be crowned BOTAB champion and the first to jump from the trenches and make the mad dash across the cramped no-mans land of the King’s Arm stage was The Stink from DraftFCB. Drawing the short straw for the dreaded opening slot, The Stink rose above any first act jitters to kick things off in fine sing-along style, ripping into the Cars ‘Just What I Needed’.
Like all good bands (well, the Monkees), the Stink’s set included a self-referential band name-checking song. However, not to be outdone EVERY song from 3rd act Geoffrey Joe (from Skull and Bones) was entitled Geoffrey Joe, including their inspired cover of Chris Knox’s ‘Not Given Lightly’ (a.k.a. Geoffrey Joe). Like a men’s clinic outpatient their performance was over all too quickly.
Sandwiched in between The Stink and Geoffrey Joe were King Creatos (from HainesAttract). In a sign of the recessionary times, King Creatos had clearly been the victim of a recent restructure, with a solitary band member taking to the stage. The art-rock musical terrorism that ensued left many in the audience slack-jawed in a slow-motion train wreck kind of way, but I was rather partial to his/their cover of Dylan’s ‘The Times They Are a Changin’.
Backslash were up next with a set that blended a brilliant original song with a rip-roaring cover of the Patea Maori Club’s Poi E, complete with a coda from The Who. It was a tough act to follow and with the crowd stomping for more, Friends Electric (Barnes Catmur) took the stage. They stormed through Push Push’s 'Trippin’ as an opening number (luckily MC Mikey Havoc was able to hide his blushes behind his flowing locks) and never let up with a rock-solid set, anchored by some powerhouse drumming and duelling lead guitar work. With his jacket and tails Daniel Barnes prowled the stage like Bill Nighy in Underworld and Friends Electric were my pick for best of the night.
As they proved last year, The Hathaways are a real crowd-pleaser with a no-nonsense garage band approach to music making. They opened with a suitably primal cover of the Stooges ‘I Want to Be Your Dog' and in a nod to judge Karen Hay closed with ‘A Forest’ by The Cure, a track that in another life was once the title music for Radio With Pictures.
After the high-octane rock ‘n’ roll of the previous three acts, Jessie G & the Six Eights (Flying Fish) quietened the mood down with a chilled-out set that married the Cowboy Junkies to Gerry Rafferty. Strange bed-fellows indeed and their cover of ‘I See Red’ by Split Enz didn’t know if it wanted to rock out in the chorus or have a cup of tea and a lie down.
The College Thrills (Colenso BBDO/AIM) closed the night in frenetic style. Their cover of Mi-Sex’s 'Computer Games' was a lot of fun and even more stop-start hyperactive than the original, and they closed their set to thunderous applause that nearly brought the house down (although the pieces of plaster falling from the ceiling could also have been a result of the air raid vocal stylings of the lead singer).
After due deliberation, judges Karen Hay, Andrew Fagan and David Farrier took to the stage to announce the winners and with the announcements completed (and the inevitable controversy started) our heroes Backslash took to the stage again to reprise Poi E. WHAKARUNGA WHAKA RARO TAKU POI E!
Check out this video of some of the musical efforts here.