Kyu make history at Sydney Uni Band Comp’s 25th Birthday - 7 September 2009
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Duo earn competition’s first ever unanimous win
The University of Sydney Union’s Band Comp celebrated its 25th birthday by heralding the arrival of another major new musical talent. Experimental pop duo Kyu won last week’s Grand Final at Manning Bar with a mesmeric performance that earned them a unanimous winning vote from a judging panel studded with music industry heavyweights.
Kyu, who describe their sound as ‘a tea party with Beethoven, Bowie, Bjork and a Banshee,’ are in fact second-year Sydney Uni students, Alyx Dennison and Freya Berkhout. Both only 19, Alyx, a Baulkham Hills local, studies Arts, while Freya, hailing from North Sydney, is an Asian Studies student.
They are the first band in the USU-run competition’s quarter-century history to earn unanimous backing from the judges. Kyu’s very first show was in round one of the competition a little over four months ago.
Despite it being their stage debut, Dennison and Berkhout’s unique style and vocal chemistry raised eyebrows and won immediate acclaim. Kyu glided through to the final, where their captivating performance enchanted the 700-strong crowd and judges alike.
“They were a treat from heaven - the best thing I have seen in years… I had tingles,” enthused judge Frazer Bourke of Red Ant Touring (Warner Music Group).
USU Entertainment Manager, Will Balfour, has seen hundreds of bands come through the USU Band Comp but was particularly moved by Kyu’s win. “It’s great to see a band that is so unique and so honest in what they’re doing, be able to communicate that so effortlessly,” said Balfour. “The vibe in the room was unlike anything I’ve ever seen at band comp and I’m so proud that a band that epitomises what we look for - creativity, expression and passion, has come through in our 25th anniversary year.”
“I hope that they will go on to greater things, as so many of our alumni have,” he said.
Despite the gushing praise, Kyu themselves remain fixated on their passion – making music. “We’re just really grateful for all the opportunities the competition has given us. It gave us incentive to do what we love,” said Alyx. “Winning was just a bonus.”
Kyu join a prestige-packed list of previous Sydney Uni Band Comp winners who have gone on to achieve international success, including The Vines (1999), Tim Freedman (1985) and Cloud Control (2006). The competition has also been the launch-pad to stardom for the likes of Frenzal Rhomb, Youth Group, Dappled Cities and The Jezabels.
Key figures from the Australian music industry cast a critical eye and ear to the six finalists, with ARIA CEO Stephen Peach, Whitlams Manager Kim Thomas, The Vines’ Hamish Rosser and Patrick Matthews, Channel V’s Jane Gazzo and several other band managers, performers and promoters filling the judges’ chairs.
The trophy was presented to the winners by Tom O’Sullivan, who founded the competition back in 1985.
Runners up on the night were psych shoe-gazers Stephanie Says in second and progressive rock outfit Super Florence Jam in third. The other finalists contributing to a magical night at Manning Bar were Foveaux, Conditionals and Moravia.