Smokefree Rockquest 2023 winners have been announced at the 2023 National Final event staged at central Auckland’s Q Theatre on September 16.
SFRQ continues to break its own records with more than 750 acts having played off in regional finals from Invercargill to Whangarei. Three acts in the Solo/Duo category and seven in the Bands’ section played live on the night, along with special guest appearances from Nelson regional winners Parallel Park and established indie act Hans Pucket.
Performing solo on guitar and keys 14 year-old Gisborne Boys High School student Salem Randell (Salem) impressively claimed first place among the solo/duo acts. “I feel amazing and it is really surreal, I am speechless,” he said of the win. “What I love most about performing is that when I get up there I lose all my anxiety in the world and I can truly lose myself on stage.”
Nelson cousins duo Jola Burns (Kahu Sanson-Burnett from Nayland College and Nelson College for Girls’ Alyahna Sanson-Rejouis) were awarded second place, and Middleton Grange School’s Flynn Adamson who claimed the Electronic Performance award placed third.
The chosen finalist bands for 2023 showed that the ‘rock’ is firmly back in Rockquest, with James Cook High School ensemble M1 bringing a stand-out ‘soul revue’ element that saw the evening’s Best Vocals award going to the lead singer of the dynamic eight-piece act, Ilaisa’ane Tokelau Jr.
Judged in third place among the bands was Unit 51 (Daniel Leabourn, Aaron McDaniel and Otto Blake-Plamer) from Tauranga Boys’ College. Second place went to Bleeding Star, incorporating Wellington High, Com Ed Centre and Hutt Valley High School students Kindekel Banda-Moyes, Jude Savage, Carlos Bellamy and Otis Hill.
The Smokefree Rockquest 2023 winning band was Parkdale, a trio made up of Mt Albert Grammar and Selwyn College students Will Jones, Liam Beasley and Solomon Woods. Proving that perseverance can bring rewards Parkdale had made it into the final based on a second chance re-submission.
Judging the event were Mikhal Norris (NZME), Jeff Newton (NZ On Air), Ellie Smith (Live Nation), and musicians Matt Warman, Nat Hutton, and Lepani.