Published in SIN News, 18 February 2013
The Witless Grand Final 2013 took place on Tuesday night, February 5 in the College Bar. Guitar and drums duo Rofi James took the top prize, making history as the first acoustic band to win an NUI Galway battle of the bands competition.
Six bands battled it out for the title on the night. Results were weighted 40-60 between the public and judges vote. The judging panel consisted of Olaf Tyaransen, Hot Press journalist, Louise Clarke, presenter with iRadio and Bernard O’Neill, manager of Electric Garden.
Cotton Ball Three, a four piece jazz/pop/rock act, played a great set of original numbers. They were well-received from the crowd, and this was reflected in the public vote, where they were awarded the top number of votes.
Anomaly were the only all-covers band who made it to the final. Their strong female vocalist and great choice in songs demonstrated that they definitely deserved to make it that far in the competition.
Super7aiyan’s instrumental progressive rock sound stood out from the rest with its interesting rhythms and entrancing guitar phrases. For a band that only formed last summer, they displayed great musical chemistry.
The Rusty Fixtures were arguably the favourites in the lead-up to the final. Runners-up in Witless 2012, their extensive gigging experience was evident in their tight set of rootsey’ folk/rock. However, the Wexford band suffered in the public voting and didn’t secure a place on the podium in the end.
Prospect Avenue, winners of the Witless semi-final, had a long road to travel to reach the College Bar on February 5, and their performance echoed the determination and energy that got them to the final.
Winners of the Acoustic heat Rofi James were the closing band before voting opened. Although they did not come out in the top half of the public vote, the judges were obviously impressed by their self-written original tracks and infectious percussive beat. Along with fellow finalists the Rusty Fixtures, they went on to play at the Arts Ball on February 13.
Cotton Ball Three claimed second prize, with Super7aiyan coming up in third place. All the bands are expected to have a great future ahead of them on the Galway music scene. Cotton Ball Three are played at the Masquerade Ball on February 21, and will be featured alongside big names at the upcoming the Cycle Against Suicide fundraiser in the Radisson Hotel.
Rofi James consists of two first years, Ronan Flaherty, 19, who is studying Cumarsáid and Jamie Murray, 20, a student of Software Engineering in GMIT. The band formed in the summer of 2011 and have been writing their own material and gigging regularly since then. When asked what they thought the clincher was on the night, they said, “I think it’s the songs, we have songs that everyone can sing to.”
They seemed shocked and over-whelmed to have won the competition.
“We’re two best mates; we just can’t get over it. We came here tonight saying we’ll play, and if we play a good show we’ll be happy. We’ve done so much gigging; I can’t believe we got something as a reward.”
The prizes for winning the competition included recording time in the Forge Recording Studio worth over €500, one month’s free rehearsal space in Galway Rehearsal Studios and gigs at Electric Garden/The Factory and the ‘Colours Fringe Festival Galway 2013’. Fans will have plenty of opportunities to hear more of Rofi James in the coming months.
Witless 2013 was held in aid of Galway charity Ability West.
Rock Soc Vice-Auditor and Witless Event Manager, Thor McVeigh said, ‘Witless has proved once again that it is one of the best battle of the bands competitions in the West of Ireland. The standard of the bands this year was incredibly high, resulting in the most competitive final in the last fifteen years. You couldn’t predict a winner. In addition, NUIG battle of the bands history was made as Rofi James became the first ever acoustic act to win the competition. I would like to thank everybody involved in making Witless 2013 happen and become such a success. I hope I have reset the bar for the competition and I wish all the best to whoever takes over.’