The tickets were sold out, the stage was set and the songs were polished.
But Oamaru band The Pills will have to wait a little longer for their shot at stardom after Covid-19 forced the postponement of the Smokefreerockquest national final.
The Pills – made up of Ethan Downing (electric guitar, lead), Fergus Armour (electric guitar, rhythm), Seth Sinclair (drums), and Adam Devon (bass) – secured their place at the national final in Auckland, after winning the regional competition in Timaru earlier this year.
The final was scheduled for tomorrow night, but with Auckland still in Level 4 lockdown until next week, it was no longer possible for the event to go ahead as planned. Instead, bands will be filmed for a Level 2, no-audience final, which will be live-streamed.
The St Kevin’s College pupils will travel to Auckland next month to record their two songs – Sonder and Lullaby – streamed as part of the online final.
While it was disappointing the event had been pushed back, and there would be no live audience, the band was “very grateful for it to still be happening”, Seth (17) said.
There was still $10,000 in musical equipment from the Rockshop up for grabs, as well as recording opportunities with NZ On Air and the chance to be noticed by some big names in the New Zealand music industry.
“We’re definitely still looking forward to it .. it’s still going to be an awesome opportunity,” he said.
“Obviously, it’s a bit disappointing that it’s not going to be live, you know, in front of an audience, because we think we play a lot better in front of an audience.
“But it’s just how it goes, really.”
Next week, a film crew would be in Oamaru to get some “hometown” footage of the band, to be used for the live-streamed final.
On the day it was announced New Zealand would be going back to Level 4, The Pills were on their way to Lyttelton to record some of their original music.
“We were about half an hour out of Christchurch, and then it was announced that the country was going into lockdown, and so we had to turn around and drive straight back.”
The band had also been busy preparing for the finals, and polishing their songs. During lockdown, they were unable to practise together, but had been doing individual work at home.
Since they had been announced in the top 10 in New Zealand for this year’s final they had received great support from the Oamaru community.
“It all means a lot and it gives us a reason to keep doing what we’re doing,” Seth said.
They hoped people in Oamaru would one day be able to say “we knew them before they were famous”.