Friends Electric ends on a high note, finally hits BOTAB pay dirt

The shots were downed at the door, the undies went flying onto the stage regularly and the screams were deafening last night as seven bands came together and rocked the hell out of the King’s Arms for the fifth annual Battle of the Ad Bands, a night that some jokingly—or not so jokingly—call the most important in advertising. And after being there or thereabouts in previous years, the worthy rock gods and goddess in Barnes, Catmur & Friend’s Friends Electric finally took the top prize, prying it from the cold dead hands of TBWA\, which had won it for the past two years but didn’t feature in this year’s festivities. 

  • Hold tight folks, photos are on their way. 

Lead singer Daniel Barnes, a man some believe is Owen Wilson, Christopher Walken and Robyn Hitchcock rolled into one, revealed a bit of senior chest and sashayed around the stage like he owned the place. And, if he is to be believed, their performance was particularly impressive given they only practiced twice. Extra points were presumably given for the fox fur around the neck and leather patch jacket worn by some of the other band members. 

Friends Electric revel in victory.

“On a cold night in Newton, Friends Electric turned their amps up to eleven, put in a performance that would make Jimi Hendrix look like Gerry Brownlee and finally won the accolade that their abilities deserve,” says self-proclaimed band manager Paul Catmur. “Rock ‘n’ Roll was the undoubted winner on the night. I wish I hadn’t drunk so much bourbon.” 

Like last year, when its performance of Ziggy Stardust made a little bit of wee come out, David Bowie was called on once again and their rendition of ‘Rebel Rebel’ hit the spot. The film-based wildcard, Tina Turner’s ‘We Don’t Need Another Hero’ from Mad Max, was also performed with aplomb (the best bit was Barnes’ spoken word throughout saying ”no more heroes, we don’t need ’em”) and the original was all class. 

Photo: DDB’s Taxidermy via Direct Mail Solutions.

Hot on its heels was DDB’s Taxidermy, which, adding a bit of drama to the night, featured Jake Barnes, Daniel’s son. With bolo ties, checked shirts, corduroy jackets and massive ginger beards, they were more folky, hillbilly hipster than ’70s glam rock. But they got the night off to a great start with a top notch rendition of the Black Key’s ‘Lonely Boy’. ‘Suicide is painless’ from MASH was a tough and slightly esoteric track to cover, and their original composition, which was about a man who loved whiskey more than he loved his wife and won best original song on the night, sounded like a glorious throwback to the classic Irish fighting songs the Fahys of Galway used to sing (for example, “Old Mr McCafferty, I punched him the face”). 

OMD’s The Chased, another consistent performer in recent years and the only band to rock a horn section, surely took the prize for most groupies on the night. There were even signs made (although Flying Fish’s Jason Bock took the prize for the band member most likely to get groupies). ‘Highway to the Dangerzone’ from Top Gun was a definite crowd-pleaser, as was Springsteen’s ‘Born to Run’, with the trumpet solo a highlight of the night. Their original was pretty damn good too. But alas, the judges weren’t swayed by the vocal crowd support. 

Photo: The Hathaways’ Adam Stevenson is an angel. Miri Kang via Twitter. 

Ogilvy’s The Hathaways bravely kicked off their set with Art Garfunkel’s rabbit-based slow jam ‘Bright Eyes’, with some of the band members resplendent in bunny ears to reference Watership Down (disrespectful, said the judge from Midnight Youth). That was then smoothly mashed up into Bonnie Tyler’s powerballad ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’. Lead singer Adam Stevenson, who was judged best lead singer of the night, belted out some impressive vocals and worked the fringe hard during Muse’s ‘Time is Running Out’ and, as Rose Matafeo pointed out, he nailed the David Brent thing.

The Burning Sensations from Flying Fish certainly looked the part, with tats, the flowing mane of Joe Lonie (who was awarded the best musician award) and black t-shirts as far as the eye could see. And they backed up the bad boy look with a rendition of Nine Inch Nails ‘I wanna fuck you like an animal’, before their STD-themed original and the classic karaoke number ‘Eye of the Tiger’. 

DraftFCB’s Pegasus had the best prop, with a massive winged horse with lazers for eyes looming over everyone at the back of the stage. The bassist also worked the crowd into a lather with some entertaining microphone tomfoolery (“what’s happening, what’s happening, what’s happen ing ing ing”) before launching into some Metallica and following it up with its original, ‘Do your motherfuckin’ time sheet’. Carl Sarney made it into the BOTAB superband for best costume on account of the massive RUN-DMC-style clock around his neck.  

This year smaller agencies were able to band together and Mediacom and BCG2 joined forces to create Dr O, which performed ‘People are Strange’ and featured the fairly creepy, rubber glove plucking Dr O and two of his vinyl-clad nurses mincing about on stage during the performance. 

Once again, a brilliant night had by all. And a remarkable amount of talent on display. 

“That just may have been the best BOTAB yet,” says Flying Fish executive producer James Moore. “Seven awesome bands, over capacity with 600 crazy cool punters. So glad Barnes Catmur won. They have been solid every year. Daniel Barnes is why we started Battle of The Ad Bands. He IS Battle of The Ad Bands. The man is a true blue fare dinkum rockstar. David Bowie + Rebel Rebel = massive highlight. And massive hangover.”

“Some great acts, awesome guitar licks, bad hair and even the odd chest wig and gold medallion, all washed down with a brew or two. Can’t wait for next year,” says CAANZ chief Paul Head. And, to top it all off, what better way to finish a night filled with musical cliches than meeting a stripper at McDonald’s at about 1.30am. Talk about rock ‘n’ roll. 

The winners:

1. The Marsden Inch Super Group. The best vocalist, musician and costume across the competition get 2 bottles of Jack Daniels and an oversized LP Cover/Art book each.

Best Costume: Carl Sarney from Pegagsus (Draft FCB)

Best Musician: Joe Lonie from Burning Sensations (Flying Fish)

Best Vocalist: Adam Stevenson from The Hathaways (Ogilvy)

2. “Most likely to get the groupies.”. Tickets to Linkin park, a bottle of Champagne, and a collection of CDs.

Winner: Jason Bock from Burning Sensations (Flying Fish)

3. Best original song. The winners get a $500 lunch courtesy of Marsden inch.

Winners: Taxidermy from DDB

Band Members: Chris Hancock, David McIndoe, Jake Barnes, Sam Ardern, Pip Perkins, Rachel Turner, Tom Cunliffe

Best wildcard interpretation. The winners get a $500 lunch courtesy of Mandy.

Winner: The Hathaways from Ogilvy

Band Members: Brendan Boughen, Gary Horne, Bruce Murray, Adam Stevenson

5. Grand prize winners

Drive the brand new Audi for a month, courtesy of Audi.

  • A production run of their very own designed ice cream flavour from Much Moore Ice Cream Factory.
  • The Battle of the Ad bands Committee with take you out for lunch at Prego.
  • Recording of original song thanks to Liquidstudios.
  • A music video produced by Flying Fish
  • A publishing deal from Native Tongue Music Publishing, who willrepresent the winning song to advertisers, film producers and television producers worldwide.

Winners: Friends Electric from Barnes, Catmur & Friends

Band Members: Daniel Barnes, Evilsara, The Stratomaster, Kateamine, Black Jim. 

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