Battle Of The Acoustics: Round One

Monday night saw the collective trying an old idea with a new twist. A battle of the bands, but for acoustic acts only. Bob Perfect voices some grievances and the reviews the show.


I hate Battle of the Bands. Absolutely loathe them. The venues and organisers are usually the only ones who really benefit, and the best band winning is seldom. The bands are urged to market themselves to bring their own crowd to a gig that they don’t get paid for, unless they eventually win the competition. That means most of the other bands perform for free, and do the marketing, but the venue takes the door. You see, that to me is fucked up. I’m not sure how this competition is being run, but I trust the organisers and I hope that every single band in this competition gets something worth their efforts.


Now that that’s out the way…


I arrived at The Collective just before seven and wasn’t too surprised to see a small crowd of mostly organisers, judges and bands. You see, it was raining, which is a Durbanite’s only weakness. (And I thought yellow was a dumb weakness, the Green Lantern creators are probably going “Well at least we didn’t pick rain, that would be silly.”) Besides, Facebook said it started at 6:30pm, and we all know the jol only starts 2 hours later, bru.



The Weekend, a side project started by Justin and Shane  from Catlike Thieves, were up first. They played a set of songs that wouldn’t be out of place at Amsterdam’s open mic evenings; a collection of poppy alt rock songs that would do well around the campfire at Splashy. Despite not being a fan of the genre, I enjoyed the guys’ performance. They both showed that they’re very capable with the guitar and their vocal harmonies come across as more heartfelt than they do in Catlike Thieves. They ended their set with The Rembrandts’ ‘I’ll Be There For You’ with a couple hiccups and I couldn’t help but think, “Maybe they should have gone for Absolutley.”



Up next were Hey, Hustler and it seemed everyone had finished their pre-drinking since the crowd filled out quite a bit. Hey, Hustler slowed the tempo right down and delivered a gentle set of Bon Iver meets Cinematic Orchestra inspired songs. Once again, I’m not too familiar with the genre, but I enjoyed the performance. Nich’s voice is soft, but never underwhelming and grabs your attention by being understated rather than overbearing. However, their version of Land Of The Rising Sun was a stand out of the set. Nich let go of the gentle approach and belted out a deep croaky chorus that caught myself and most of the crowd off guard.



Asleep in Transit allowed everyone quite a long drinks and smoke break as they chose to come with their full band which included drums and a cello. The wait was worth it and when they eventually started playing, they proved that the full band is necessary. The drummer’s control impressed me. In a room that small, drums can easily drown out everything else, but they never did. Asleep in Transit play a poppy brand of indie/folk and they do it well. They’ve got two vocalists, but on Monday, it was Irina that really stood out. I’m not sure they’ll take it as a compliment, but there are moments that sound a bit like Taylor Swift meets Feist but with more hand claps. They put on a touching performance and most of the people I chatted to had them pegged for the win.



Up last was Amy White, and I hate to admit it but I didn’t really pay much attention to her. She had a great voice and reminded me of an Alanis Morissette with a keyboard, but I was bored very quickly and got distracted by conversation.  She did do a cover of Rihana’s part in I Love The Way You Lie which was memorable, but I think that was more the song choice than performance that made it stand out.


Out of the four acts, I probably would have picked Asleep in Transit to go through to the finals but I’m not a judge and that honour went to The Weekend. Not a bad choice, although not an inspired one either. Apparently the bands are judged on marketing, performance and professionalism which makes it odd that the band that had the smallest crowd and that made the most mistakes went through, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying they didn’t deserve it.


So that was Round 1 of The Battle Of The Acoustics. Next week sees Nich Pitman, Roachy, The Wilderness Act and Luna the Orca up against each other. I’ve only seen The Wilderness Act play so I’m keen to see what the other acts have to deliver. As much as I can hate on band battles, I’m always excited to hear some new music.


*All images © Matt Stroud

You can find some more photos on our Facebook page

12 Responses to “Battle Of The Acoustics: Round One”
  1. Roachy says:

    Nice one Bob… see you on Monday

  2. Bob says:

    Don’t suck.

  3. J-dawg. says:

    I wasn’t at the collective, or even know whats really going on here but I appreciate the honesty of this article.
    The written song and its performance of the individual/band should be all that matters. No Facebook. No rent a Crowd. No bullshit.
    There is nothing more soul destroying than seeing a talented,hard working, creative musician being shafted by bias decisions made on the grounds of local popularity or the influence of social media.
    Surely the “best man should win” ……….or the best networked?

    Maybe decent musicians who are truely passionate about their music and not the glamourised image or lifestyle of being a musician shouldn’t even bother with these things?

    I suppose not everyone shares the same convictions on this matter,and because of that someone is always going to get screwd.

  4. the river danube says:

    the kak band always wins the battle of the bands. this is the rule.

    i said this to the guys from asleep in transit before they went to the collective. with a bit of apprehension in case they actually got through and then i eat my words.

    my words remain uneaten, but at least they know they are not the kak band.

  5. T says:

    Its a non profit event. The R20 entry fee covers the sound rig, and a portion of the main prize. The balance will be paid by the gallery.

  6. Hey Bob

    Thanks so much for such a rad review! We’re so flattered and happy with the impact we had on people that night. It doesn’t matter that we didn’t win! We had a great time performing and entertaining people. Such a kiff night 🙂 !


  7. Ozzie says:

    Battle of the bands always ends in tears, but it’s a good showcase for new bands or in this case, bands doing their thing a little differently.

  8. Rhyan rocking rolling rudman says:

    Music should never be a competition ……………. its creative not athletics.

  9. just saying says:

    T: the events draws and creates a crowd and awareness around and for the collective, which in turn generates money. whoops. that’s profit. the real winner of these battle of the bands at the end of the day will be the venue. that’s the way it’s been and the way it will always be.

  10. pissingblood says:

    Ever see that movie about the band made up of losers that enter the local battle of the bands and, despite their own self-doubt and social status, end up making it to the final against the most popular band in town, usually former band mates of one of the losers? Yeah that shit doesn’t happen… Battle of the bands’ are usually won through nepotism and who can sound more like the radio. Real talent and originality isn’t rewarded. As soon as the semi’s are reached you might as well stop going.

  11. T. says:

    guess you havent come to a round yet. o’s stop bitching and just enjoy some rad music. thats all its about.

  12. Nich Hustler says:

    I will say that generally I agree about Battle of the Bands being a waste of time, but I feel the organisers of this event did a stellar job. They also did something fairly different. It was an awesome venue, everyone seemed pretty mellow and it was nice. I definitely would’ve given Asleep the win in our round, but then again, I wasn’t a judge. Hey! Hustler joined for the exposure the event provided and to that end we had fun and enjoyed ourselves. Thanks to organisers, sponsors and other bands for being awesome.

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