GRAFTON/COFFS outfit Auribus didn't give themselves much of a chance of success before the start of the first heat of the Emergenza Rock Festival at Sydney's Metro Theatre last Friday.
After all, most of the other bands in the battle were from Sydney or surrounds and the band winners were decided by a raise of hands from audience members at the end of the show - Emergenza staff employed to count the vote.
When the numbers finally came in, says Auribus axeman Anthony McLeod, no one was more surprised than the band themselves; they had placed second overall and had made it through to the semi-finals in October.
McLeod estimates the band had 50 supporters, including about three from Grafton, who had come along to support Auribus but many others were won over by their performance.
"We were so nervous, we were just thinking 'we're not in Grafton or Coffs Harbour anymore'," he said, partly thrilled and partly intimidated by the Metro's massive sound system.
"We had to play our hearts out considering we had very few supporters there ... and we did; we really played well.
"At this stage of the competition and at the semis it's a self-promotion contest, so it's decided on how much support you can get yourself. It's only in the final that you go before a panel of judges."
The show has already opened doors for the band - a gig at the Beresford Hotel in Surry Hills in May.
"We've got six months to get as many people as possible to the semi-final and that's what we're going to do," said a clearly motivated McLeod.
So what does Auribus sound like?
A close listen to Grafton/Coffs outfit Auribus and you may be forgiven for wondering - how the hell aren't these guys (and gal) massive?
McLeod describes the band as a blend of rock, pop and funk but there's a lot more at play on the band's EP Eyes of Youth (working title).
Soulful and crisp vocals from Robbie Krupski Junior, the ever-prodigious guitar work of McLeod, solid and dynamic drums from Antony Ratzer along with strong feminine vocals and keyboards from Shekinah Moye.
Bass lines are supplied by Krupski on keytar "for the moment", says McLeod.
Most of the 10 songs quickly reviewed are simple but interesting compositions drawing on influences ranging from Elton John to Maroon 5 to Lionel Ritchie with a respectable amount of the band's own style thrown in.
Krupski, 21, is the son of Robbie senior - a vocalist from the band Hot Cargo and also a performer in various musicals including Rasputin.
What is the Emergenza Rock Festival?
The Emergenza website describes it as the world's biggest rock festival and a quick look at the simultaneous battles being played off around the world at any one time leaves little room for doubt.
Over the course of the festival - between last week and the international grand final in Germany in August next year - there are more than 600 shows being played, including 14 in Australia. These include heats, semi-finals and national grand finals from countries across the globe.
For Auribus it will be one step at a time but in the back of this band's minds will be the Australian grand final prize - a paid trip to compete at the international grand final followed by the international winner's prize of a fully paid tour of Europe.