Bands rock in Bandquest

From left, back row: Manaia Elliott, Ben Bonetti, Thomas Senior, Alex Dixon and Ruby Oldershaw. Front row: Paris Campbell, Isla Te Weehi, Meeka Truscott and Elsa Jolley.

Cambridge Middle School’s young rockers and poppers put their musical talent to the fore at the Waikato Bandquest competition this week, performing to a huge crowd at the Clarence St Theatre.

The talented musicians, performing as rock group Blended and pop group Crowded, were two of 14 bands competing at the competition on Tuesday night, which is the primary and middle school equivalent of Rockquest.

The event attracted record entries this year, forcing the 24 bands to be split over two nights of competition. Ultimately it was Southwell School’s Black Badger that took the win on Tuesday night, but the CMS students said they were winners in their own right after having a heap of fun at the competition. “We didn’t get any placings, but overall it was really fun, and we enjoyed it,” said Ben Bonetti, vocalist for Crowded.

Crowded, which performed Perfect Juliet by Ed Sheran, included Elsa Jolley (keyboard), Paris Campbell (guitar), Ben Bonetti (vocals), Thomas Senior (drums), Mercedes Erutoe (vocals) and Matthew Wittayani (bass).

It was Crowded’s first time performing in front of an audience besides the school assembly, and for keyboardist Elsa Jolley it was somewhat of an unexpected performance after being roped in at the last minute. “It was nerve-wracking, but it was really fun,” she said, having joined the group a week before the performance.

“I thought they did fantastically,” said Tracey Andrews, head of performing arts at Cambridge Middle School. “They were certainly on par with all the other schools that were there.”

It was the second public performance for Blended, having competed in Bandslam at Activate Church a month earlier. “We were way more confident this time,” said drummer Alex Dixon, adding that a highlight for the band was hearing the crowd clap along to their performance.

Blended, which played Dark Necessities by Red Hot Chili Peppers, included Manaia Elliott (bass), Ruby Oldershaw (guitar), Meeka Truscott (vocals), Isla Te Weehi (keyboard), Alex Dixon (drums).

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