SHiNDiG 2004: Night 5

Upon receiving a SHiNDiG judging sheet from Ben, you’ll note that that he has boldfaced and underlined the message “constructive criticism only”. On a night like last night’s SHiNDiG, that reminder comes in handy. To stay constructive, I’ll find myself suddenly vastly interested in the showmanship, the set, the dress or even the posturing of the act on stage. Last night, I believe I wrote something to those effects for each of the three acts. Still, someone had to win.

Man meets Bear, another one-man, laptop & guitar act opened. Now carry the normal end-result of a man meeting a bear over to a musical sound, and you’ll get the idea. His songs were actually quite nice, simple little songs, fairly folky. He had a nice, emotive voice. But then he mixed in these discordant, jarring, sometimes even off-tempo (from his own guitar-playing) loops from his laptop, mauling his own songs. Worse (and this is my standard complaint for DIY’ers), he kept breaking the flow to fiddle with his laptop. Still, in the end, he got my vote because I liked his voice, and he could potentially be really interesting.

Ponderosa could have been the house band for Dazed & Confused, or any other late 70’s stoner-rock high-school movie. Right down to the hair. I will say it was really great to hear some old-school blues-rooted rock music, and also, fun to hear a well-played bass featured so prominently. They could well have a great career ahead of themselves as a cover band. If this was one of their first shows, and they gain some confidence, they could actually become fairly listenable. Sadly, I’m not sure they’ll ever be terribly interesting without modernizing, or personalizing their sound beyond what they currently produce.

I really don’t know what to say about Basement. He should never had left it, perhaps? Another one-man act (but with mannequins ‘playing’ fake keyboards for backup), and a pre-programmed track for his set (at least he didn’t have to toy with it), he produced a really tame industrial sound. Clearly heavily influenced by the likes of Trent Reznor, he was sadly simply no good – the sound was week and pop-like. It made Depeche Mode sound hard, the lyrics were inane and his voice rather weak – missing power and emotion.

Ben promises that next week will be better. I certainly hope so, particularly if I’m judging. It’s really hard to rank three acts when not a single one wins you over.