Winning Ivasa band members clockwise from top left (on right hand photo), Sidney Barron, Emma Commons, Toby Brown, Devon Brassfield, Luke Wilkes, and Buda Szerelem-Tolnay at the Theatre Royal on Friday night. Photo: Brittany Spencer.

Bands rock Theatre Royal


It was standing room only at Friday night’s Smokefree Rockquest Nelson finals, smoke billowed from the stage, the lights flashed, and the audience were up and jumping as Nelson College and Nelson College for Girls band Ivasa stole the show.

The six-strong band lifted the energy at the Theatre Royal, dancing around the stage and dropping to the ground in their two song set.

Ivasa vocalist Emma Commons from Nelson College for Girls. Photo: Brittany Spencer.
Ivasa vocalist Emma Commons from Nelson College for Girls. Photo: Brittany Spencer.

Ivasa impressed the judges with their showmanship, vocals, and musical talent, edging out Nayland College band So Far for the title of best band.

Vocalist Emma Commons says the band’s fun-factor gave them the edge over their competition.

“We decided that we needed to have fun on the stage and get across how much we enjoy what we do, and I guess that came across.”

The band played two songs, Emma described one as ‘alternative’ and the other as ‘pure funk’.

Band member Toby Brown says his nerves were high as he waited in the wing during the first song. “I was so nervous, but as soon as I came on I just started grooving and you get to that place where you’re on stage with all your mates doing something you love and it’s just magic.”

For drummer Devon Brassfield, the final marked his fourth and final year competing in Rockquest and he says it has been his best year yet. “To get to the top tier of Rockquest in my last year is pretty awesome and to be able to play [our music] full bore in front of a crowd that is really into it is probably one of the best things as a musician.”

As well as winning the title of best band, electric guitarist Luke Wilkes also took home The Mainz Musicianship Award.

Now both Ivasa and So Far must prepare 15 minutes of their best material for selection as national finalists.

Founder and director Pete Rainey says from here on the Nelson finalists will have to be well organised and work hard to make the most of the opportunity Smokefreerockquest offers.

“They have to submit video footage of their original music that will be judged in August as we lead up to the national final,” he says. “This process not only demands musical ability and creativity, they also learn to work together as a group and to develop the organisation and promotional skills they’ll need if they’re going to make it on the Kiwi music scene.”

Also vying for a spot in the national finals is Brooklyn Scott from Garin College and Dayla Schmutzer-Ward and Delilah Botham from Waimea and Nayland Colleges, who placed first and second respectively in the Nelson solo-duo section announced at the regional heats last weekend.