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Live Review: The National Campus Band Competition State Final

16 September 2015 | 7:08 pm | Dave Mullins

The National Campus Band Competition is drawing to a close, with finalists being decided on all around the country. The WA final took place at the Rosemount Hotel, with five bands shooting it out for a place in the grand final later in the month.

Indie six-piece, Raksha, opened up the night with a solid set of soulful and energetic pop tunes. The songs are driven by interweaving basslines and busy vocal harmonies that show off just how talented these guys are. Being the opening act of the night they had their work cut out for them, but they did a great job of pulling some big cheers from the small crowd.

Sly Withers were up next and set the tone straight away. These guys knew their way around a stage and nailed a set of radio-friendly rock. Their songs were short and catchy – simple rock songs that were easy to enjoy, and even easier to dance to. The response from the crowd was massive, and one has to wonder why these guys aren’t out touring the country already.

Next up was King’s Justice, led by the impressive Jack Young. Young has incredible control over his voice, utilising some advanced techniques that aren’t so common in modern rock bands. While all the members of the band were talented, it seemed that Young was taking front and centre, and a lack of presence from the rest of the band might be holding them back from a bigger audience response.

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Great Gable had been getting cheers at the very mention of the name from early in the night, so when they took the stage it was with some degree of expectation. A large crowd gathered at the front of the stage and within moments fans were singing along and crowd surfing. Great Gable mixes reggae, blues and rock that might draw comparisons to bands like the Drones, but while you can find some familiar elements, their music always maintains a degree originality. Alex Whiteman, their unassuming frontman gave a powerful performance that resonated really well with the crowd.

It was always going to be hard to follow an act like Great Gable, but Young Robin gave it their best shot. The five piece played a set of mellow indie-pop that, while admirably performed, might have slightly underwhelmed following the high-energy sets of their rivals. The response from the crowd was extremely positive, with a fair few people dancing along to their songs.

While the scores were tallied up the crowd played a game of ‘real life Tinder’ which was a confusing reminder to the fact that this was a crowd full of uni students. Say what you will, but these kids know how to have fun. Taking the competition and going on to represent the state at the grand final was Great Gable, with Sly Withers coming in second and Kings Justice in third place. The night closed out with another set from Great Gable. Good luck in the grand final guys!

Originally published in X-Press Magazine.