Featuring the Metal-grrl power of Splatter, the endearingly bleak Rain and The Sidewalk and the full on rawk of Elizabeth, week 2 shaped up to be significantly more enjoyable than last.
Splatter started off the night with a vociferous snarl of peppy, angry rock. A 4-piece, each member an unusual instrument, they used their extra strings & drums to good effect. The singer, a woman who had one of the deepest, growliest singing voiced I’ve ever heard lead them well, snarling into the mic, prancing around on stage to the music and keeping up a lively banter with the audience. As metal goes, it was fine enough. It might say something that beyond their surprisingly pleasant demeanor (particularly given the usual angry rock groups that populate SHiNDiG) the best part of the show was the unbelievable hair-windmill the bassist managed to get going during a few of the tracks. There was nothing particularly wrong with the group. They were really quite good, and possibly quite deserving of winning the night, were it any other week.
The Rain and the Sidewalk was the next act to arrive on stage, emerging as another one-man-band. There was something Joy Division-esque about him from the start — hopelessly bleak lyrics of a sad, lonely, smart introvert, bracing, simple guitar and and some ‘fuzz’ to complete the electronic sound. Unfortunately for us, there were 2 large problems with this act. First, and foremost, the guy simply could not sing. His voice was truly, truly atrocious. Second, he was visibly nervous, and was hesitant and stumbling out of the gate. This latter improved dramatically as the set wore on, but there was little improvement on the former. His songs were really quite good, and the lyrics were intelligent and darkly humorous. I hope that he may find a skilled singer, at the least, to work with in the future. Given the slowly cresting wave of 80’s and New Wave nostalgia, he may be well poised to take advantage of that with some work.
Elizabeth, from the start, stole the show. There was something jarring to myself, however, as the singer was a dead-ringer aurally for the singer from SHiNDiG alumnus My Project: Blue. Given how different the bands sound, it was amazing. But enough digression. Elizabeth was really tight, and clearly having a ball up on stage. Their brand of straight-up rock was nothing particularly new or innovative, but it was hook-laden and catchy, and I soon found myself enjoying them despite my best intentions to not like them. The lead singer was charismatic, and the earnest, dreamy strumming of the lead guitarist was fairly mesmerizing. Their weakness lay in the other two members: The bass was often simply lost amidst the rest of the sound, and the drumming, while solid, was nothing more than that. In addition, there was a certain sameness to each of their tunes. More than once I found myself thinking ‘Haven’t they already played this song?’ Despite these faults, they were entirely enjoyable, and I’m quite pleased that I’ll be hearing them again in November in the semi-finals.
This week, as seems so often to happen at SHiNDiG, was overall a significantly better week than last, and it’s a shame that six acts were not switched around a little. I’ve no idea how the scheduling is done for this thing, but more than once over the years, I’ve seen a night where 2 or 3 of the acts could quite easily win, only to be followed the next week by a trio where it’s a chore to decide who I could stand to see again. If any of Splatter, The Rain and the Sidewalk (if he finds a vocal coach or partner) or Elizabth are playing around town, I recommend that you go check them out.