SHiNDiG (week 2)

Week 2 of SHiNDiG was an odd one: my feelings upon attending were inverse to how IÂ’d thought IÂ’d react based on the demo songs up on the website. The Railway club was already pretty packed when I arrived, the centerpiece being a birthday party wherein several men were all dressed as Vegas-era Elvis (paunch and puffy face included in only one of the getups, although I suspect it wasnÂ’t makeup).

I was most excited before arrival to see the first band, Woody, whose demo track ‘Kitsilano Cowboy’ was hilarious, seemingly all ironic and alt.country. They presented well on stage, the 3 men all in matching black bowling shirts with a wide blue stripe, the singer & keyboardist decked out retro-hipster style, a bright blue wig to top it off. Unfortunately, their performance was not nearly no inspired as a synchronized wardrobe. A mix of country & surf guitar, what had promised to be intelligently humorous was in actuality just plain silly. The best moment was when the singer left the stage, leaving the 3 guys to play a surf-guitar track. I immediately thought that perhaps they were originally a surf act, and the singer was perhaps their Yoko Ono.

I’d noticed that during Woody’s set, the crowd was unusually boisterous, but it hadn’t bothered me. Unfortunately, My Project: Blue, who was the second act of the night, really deserved some quiet. A quartet featuring 2 acoustic guitars, drums, mini-moog/bass, they had a soft, ethereal sound that seemed very suited to artsy coffee-shops. Backed by grainy 8mm video of random families doing family oriented things, they sung about – well, I’m not entirely sure what they sung about, but it sounded pretty mournful, which I probably should have expected given the name. The singer, hiding behind hair, has the Thom Yorke-style wail down pat, making anything sung sound slightly sad & angry. The tracks in which they added the bass generally sounded better, although the richest sound came when the singer put down his guitar to take up the synthesizer, which padded them out with drums, acoustic guitar, bass and mini-moog. They left me in a meditative mood as they walked off-stage, but that was quickly disrupted by the insanity that JokesForBeer always is. Lame jokes and heckles ensued for a while before Ben, so stoic in face of it all, called it to a merciful halt and Goshen (Note to Ben: Goshen, not Goshent) prepped to go on.

Goshen was…atmospheric rock? An instrumental 3-piece, they cruised through their set, each song morphing into the next until I suddenly realized I never noticed any difference between them all. Each felt like just one more iteration of the previous, with negligible differences. Despite this, or perhaps because of this, they succeeded in creating a definite atmosphere in the room, which had thinned out noticeably by then, although the Elvi were all still going strong. They were instantly forgettable, and as I write this, I’m having a hard time recalling anything about them. They were completely anonymous on stage as well, with no introduction, no interaction with the audience – they just played through their set, then got off. Despite this seemingly negative review, I did somewhat enjoy Goshen, although it may be more apt to say that I didn’t dislike them. I’m not sure they had enough presence to really sway me in either way.

The judges had it easy this night: My Project: Blue was so much better than either of the other 2 bands, indeed IÂ’d say theyÂ’ve an excellent chance of winning SHiNDiG this year. Were I to place the other 2 bands, IÂ’d probably order it Goshen, then Woody, mostly because IÂ’d find another half-hour of Goshen far less irritating.

Look for this review in an upcoming DiSCORDER too (I hope)