By Jack Crane
The annual FReeZA Push Start Battle of the Bands Northern Country Regional Final was held in Castlemaine on 26 November 2011. Castlemaine's own Theatre Royal played host to the winners of previous battles in Wedderburn, Bendigo, Ballarat, Castlemaine and Romsey.
Ballarat band The Razz opened the battle and young guitarist Hayden Dally stormed the stage. His performance was a real reason for jaws to drop with amazement. At only 10 years of age he showed amazing talent. He had previously performed in the Castlemaine heats of the battle, but since he wasn’t of competing age he was invited to just play at the regional finals instead.
The Church Rats were the first real contenders in the competition. They warmed the audience up with a cover of The Living End’s ‘Prisoner of Society’. The rest of their set consisted of original songs, commonly pop/punk in style. Their guitarist showed great talent and revealed himself as the loud spokesperson of the band for the evening. While the band played well together, the power of the band drowned out the voice of their petite female singer.
Like Royalty performed next. Dressed in "fashionable" black and black, the boys performed a set of all-original songs.
Next up were Paper Arcade, who were extremely talented. You know when you hear something, but you just can’t quite put your finger on what makes it so good? Well that applies to this band. Their alternating lead vocalists were quite a contrast. One had a raw tone, perhaps stemming from a grunge influence, while the other was a little tamer. The band played really well together and had original songs.
Jarvis Holt was second last and slowed things down a little - just Jarvis and a keyboard. He played two covers, one from Mumford and Sons and the other from Sparkadia. What really impressed me about Jarvis' set was the amount of maturity shown by the lyrics in his original songs.
Low Point closed the competition with a rock'n'roll set. They got the biggest and loudest crowd, perhaps bringing a few from their hometown, but they were worthy of the applause. The trio played all originals, but the crowd-driven encore provided them with the opportunity to play a cover of the Foo Fighters’ ‘Times Like These’.
While the three judges, Andrew Kitchen, David Stretch and David Thrussell, deliberated, Melbourne-based band Redcoats kept the crowd entertained.
Not only were the Redcoats talented musicians, but they managed to perform a very smooth blues-rock set while luring people to dance. It was a really enjoyable night.
In the end third place went to Low Point, second place went to Church Rats and first place went to Paper Arcade, who will go on to compete in the FReeZA Push Start final at Push Over 2012. Congratulations to everyone who competed.
3.5 out of 5