Last night was an eclectic a mixas I’ve ever heard at a _SHiNDiG, and I’ve been to a fair number at this point. Opening the night was the metal act Martial Law, from Abbotsford, or somewhere like that (the singer, clearly proud of this, shouted where they were from on several occasions, but I never once could understand where it was he was shouting they were from). They were tight, had high energy and a driving drummer, propelling them through their set. The singer, likewise, has excellent crowd-working skills, getting everyone up and excited for the night, despite their early 9:30 start. The only noticeable problem with these guys was the hatless guitarist (as they switched off roles) occasionally simply seemed to lose time to the others. The other helpful note I have is that wife-beaters may work out wherever your from, but they’re just not cool in the city, I don’t care who you are (wow — isn’t that petty of me?).
The second act of the night was The Front, ostensibly a hip-hop act, but that’s doing them some disservice. They were simply phenomenal. An interesting, original funky sound, subtle, elegent & complex basslines (from an actual bassist) and upbeat, intelligent lyrics, these guys were heads & shoulders above both the other bands. I’ve never seen a SHiNDiG crows so enamoured with an act, as they got lots of people right up front dancing for them (even if most of these people were their own friends — it’s an unusual occurance). Oddly, what ensured they would carry the night was what happened when they experienced some technical difficulties with their bassist’s amp. Rather than just standing around trying to fix it, the MCs freestyled around the topic of the bassist breaking his amp, with the keyboardist & drummer providing the beat for them. One of them even switched fluidly into another language (spanish?) mid-rap, keeping the rhyme, and then switched back. So he was what you might say decent.
Last act of the night was Gangbang, a lo-fi/DIY/po-mo ironic/detached punk act, somewhat like very early Blondie. They were fine and fun, and had interesting lyrics (when was the last time you heard pemmikin (sp?) or coureur de bois in a song?), but did suffer from perhaps being too into their own act, and failing as they’d fall into giggles at their own joke.
As expected, The Front carried the night. Actually, I now expect them to win the whole thing, although the finals should stack up to be good, with who I’m guessing will win each of the semi-final rounds. Needless to say, if you see these guys advertised around town, go check them out. You won’t be disapointed.