Last Friday was our school's Big House music competition. After a close 5th place and only 8 points off the leading house Marsden, we were keen to close down the gap and become the House Music champions. This year, the event would be held at Vector Arena, right in the centre of the city and home to many performances from internationally renowned artists such as Lady Gaga, Justin Beiber, Taylor Swift, The Black Keys and Neil Young. Our house Marsden would be performing the Glee mashup of two songs from two famous Tom Cruise movies. 'Old Time Rock n' Roll' from Risky Business and 'Danger Zone' from Top Gun. We were feeling confident in both our song choice and our band, which would hold the beat and the song. I was the bassist for the house and was keen to perform at Vector.
Friday's school periods were cut short and finished at lunchtime and all the houses retired back to their buildings to practice for the performance later that night. Our housemaster Mr Simperingham, knowing that space had always been an issue for practices had ask our Rev. if we could use the chapel and he gladly agreed. This would prove to be immensely useful as the band could have ample room for amps, keyboards and drums while we could split up the singers into their parts to practice their lines. We managed to get all the band equipment into Connor Knell's ride which was an old beat up, canary yellow Nissan Sentra. Boy did that machine look tired and old, out of place amongst the typical line of VW Golfs and BMWs the other students drove. Amazingly, all the band equipment including a couple of guitars, a tenor sax and an alto sax managed to all fit in the back seat/boot of his car. Also on that Friday, an accident on the motorway had closed off one lane on the Newmarket bridge which had caused the entire Auckland road network to grind to a halt which worried us as we had to be at Vector at 5:00pm for a sound check. The busses were due to leave at 4:00pm and we certainly knew we were going to be late. Just before we left, Connor gave me the opportunity of a lifetime to let me drive his Nissan all the way to Vector! The car was old but certainly had a character with its manual wind down windows and ever empty fuel gauge. The car was also manual which proved only to be the 3rd time I had ever driven a manual car and I didn't stall at all during the hour long journey!
When we finally arrived at Vector, ahead of the buses after taking several shortcuts through the racecourse and some back roads, we finally arrived at the rear loading dock of Vector. Man was this place huge! We found our waiting room, dropped off the equipment and headed for the main stage door. Inside was massive! The amount of space and people this arena could hold was staggering. It had even been able to be pushed forward so we could fill up less seats. Just before we started, I was delighted to run into Emma Featherstone (and also Jamie McDell) who was our music teacher at King's Prep. After a big hug, I left her to retreat to the judges room where they finalised the roles for the night while I went to join the band for a sound check. This was amazing. Being able to play in a band at Vector is a once in a lifetime opportunity (even if it was for a school event).
Finally we all went to take our seats as the rest of the school and the crowds started arriving. The arena was packed within 45 minutes and buzzing. Everyone was looking forward to the start. I had brought my camera which gave me a front row seat right in front of the stage! When Rev. Walters finally took to the stage, everyone was cheering. All of the acts were great (and can be viewed here). Among my favourites was St Johns house which performed 'Greased Lightning' and Peart House which performed 'Oh What a Night.' Taylor house's conductor Annie was hilarious as there were pieces of paper spread out next to her containing phrases written in bold such as 'Smile!' 'Slower' and 'Faster!'
My favourite performance of the night was Averil House's winning Small House performance of Bruno Mars' 'Treasure.' Everything about it was tight and I even think the arrangement was better than the original! We also had a special guest Jamie McDell (an ex-King's student) perform her lastest single 'Angel.' I had a nice chat to her backstage after her performance about her house music during her time at King's.
Overall, I think having Big House at Vector was an outstanding succes. It sounded much better than previous years thanks to professional technicians and equipment and was much closer to central Auckland. Everyone had a great time and the winners Averil were well deserved. I will definitely be coming back next year to see the next Big House!