The air was thick with the smell of rock, bourbon and groupies last night at the King's Arms as the CAANZ and Flying Fish Battle of the Ad Bands, easily the most anticipated and important event on the advertising calendar, pitched agency against agency, virtuoso against virtuoso, rock god/goddess against rock god/goddess. And in what can only be described as a battle of the titans, TBWA\'s three-piece outfit Virgin Galactic backed up last year's victory as Backslash and were crowned the kings of adland.
The crowd went weak at the knees as the long-haired, moustachioed frontman with the voice of an angel belted out the hits and Iain Nealie, one half of the pair responsible for the fictional skullduggery used to promote the event, entranced the audience with his dexterous bass fingers to bring home the win overall win and the best original song.
"We were as surprised as everyone else. Unfortunately we're still virgins," says Nealie.
There were almost too many highlights to name from the eight bands and, possibly because of the free bar tab and the two shots-o-liquor offered to everyone on entry, many of those highlights are slightly hazy this morning. But the addition of a jingle to the requirements for each band was an inspired decision and led to some stunning advertising-related musicianship. OMD's The Chased with 'Bluebird's the Word', Barnes, Catmur & Friends' Friends Electric with 'Skyline Garages' and Ogilvy's The Hathaways with 'Tux keeps 'em full of life' were all particularly memorable. But it was Flying Fish's 'The Foul Hooks' bravura rendition of Auckland Glass that was rightfully awarded the best of the night.
The Chased's brilliant version of The Beatles' 'I am the Walrus' was a standout in the cover category (extra points possibly added for the only horn section of the night) and it also won the wildcard section with I don't like Mondays. If there was an award for band with the most vocal groupies, it would've won that too.
Lance Feeedom were unlucky not to be rewarded for the entertaining dubstep version of Tiny Dancer, appropriately titled Tiny Dubstep, and the particularly post-modern track that consisted of reading out Facebook status updates off a mobile phone ("one person likes this") was a triumph, a tour de force, a gripping romp.
Daniel Barnes with his specially coiffed, Christopher Walken/David Bowie-esque bouffant, stunning leather jacket and impressive powerstance, was an extremely popular choice as best vocalist (Friends Electric's version of Ziggy Stardust made a little bit of wee come out and, as a man with little to no musical talent, kudos also needs to go to Crispin Schuberth for his repetitive one handed keyboard jab).
Other Marsden Inch super group members chosen by the three judges and announced by MC Dave Gibson included the wailing guitarist from DraftFCB's The Stink, The College Thrill's well-crimped, sparkly front-ladies as best-dressed, College Thrills' bongo player as best 'other', OMD's Matthew Te Young on drums, and The Hathaway's shiny-dressed chanteuse Bex Riley, who took away the X-factor prize (Damon O'Leary was unlucky not to be awarded best late 90s enthusiastic rock dancing in front of the keyboard).
Overall, a stunning display of talent and musical showmanship. Who knew there were so many extroverts in advertising. Now we look forward to the upcoming Battle of the Accountancy Bands.
- We're hoping to get some footage of the bands in action from Flying Fish later on. Hold the line callers.