SHiNDiG (finals)

Last night was the last night of the 2002 edition of SHiNDiG. What with trips, work and being sick having kept me away for most of the shows, I’d actually only seen one of the finalists prior to last night.

The three finalists were The Stunts, My Project:Blue and Black Rice.

The Stunts were a rock-grrl trio, with a quirky sense of humor. They have a costume schtick, showing up last night in naval costume (having prior appeared as Brownies and Mad Scientists, apparently). They were fun, but I’m not sure how they got through 2 previous rounds. While their sound was intentionally edgy, they were a little rough around the edge still, it seemed, and lacked a little cohesion. They, were, however, fun, and had excellent crowd support.

My Project: Blue were the ones that I’d seen before. In fact, when I first saw them, I pegged them as potential finalists. They started of moody and dark, their weird 8mm film showing fuzzily behind them. The person sitting next to me (jen?), likened them to an ‘indie-rock Doors, except for the voice’ (which I’d say is ‘inspired’ by Thom Yorke of Radiohead. This moody, mellow sound held sway for about half their set, until their organist strapped on a guitar and they woke up, to become a much more lively band (including a signature dance!). I thought they were really great, and quite likely to make the jump across to college radio.

After a somewhat lame Jokes for Beer (though full of offerings, they just mostly sucked) (there was, however, one joke I particularly liked: so a chicken and an egg are lying in bed together. The egg is smoking. The egg turns to the chicken and says ‘I guess we know the answer to that question then’), Black Rice came on. Black Rice was straight-up, 70’s-fueled guitar rock. Right down to neck-length wavy hair, headbands and bad handlebar mustaches. But they could really rock. Their ‘older’ material was excellent, but they also included a slew of new songs, which seemed to more metal, less melody, and made me tune them out somewhat.

Had it been me voting, My Project: Blue would have squeaked past Black Rice, with The Stunts in third. However, according to the judges, Black Rice won, with My Project: Blue second and the Stunts still in third.

SHiNDiG (week 6)

I’d like to preamble this review with the following: I have great respect for a group of people willing to get up on stage, in front of a potentially hostile, or apathetic audience, and play their own music. I almost have more respect for bands who must know how far they have to go before they stop sucking.

Having been a judge last night, I would like to have abstained in the voting process. For each band, I had a real hard time saying nice things about them, although I managed to find one or two good things to say about each of them. Of the three bands, The Olden Days probably has the most potential. They are a depressing kindercore band, and once they get over the ‘it must be sad to be arty’ hump, they’ll probably do alright. And practice some more. And get more comfortable on stage. A certain amount of nervousness is fine, even endearing, but they were just awkward. It was really quite sad. I hope for their sakes the main singer (whose neck was wrapped in a wool scarf) was sick, because the boy could not hold a note for anything. It just kindof disapeared.

I should have guessed from their name that Subconscious Satellite was going to be all psychedelic prog rock. I suppose the best thing I can say about them was that they would make excellent arena rock, were this 30-35 years ago. Their meanderings, their silly, Phish-like lyrics, Greatful Dead-inspired ‘space jams’ to segue between songs, their tiresomely predictable guitar solos—I could have done just fine without them all. As a former deadhead, heavily into psychedelia & 70’s prog rock, it was just sad to see and hear this staple of my youth done so badly. It was unfortunate, because individually, they all seemed to be pretty decent musicians. Perhaps they’ll split up and each go on to greatness in other acts.

Ending the night was Rakshasa, some kindof odd rock outfit. To get things out of the way, a personal note to the lead singer: That much pretention, combined with the Raine Maida impersonation doesn’t do anybody any good. To the bassist: If you’re going to be the center of attention, standing out front, do something. You looked so lost up there. The drummer really drove the band, the guitar work was fine (although the lead guitar was strangely lost in the mix somehow), but nothing really worked. Admitedly, I may have liked them more if it weren’t for the singer’s antics. The final piece missing was cohesion: they just seemed to be all over the map, trying things out, without finding what exactly worked for them.

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 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)

SHiNDiG (Week 1)

First off, the quality level of last night was much higher than most of last year’s. As Ben says that it was perhaps the weakest night on the schedule, things are looking good.

The first band of the night was My Funeral, who were straight-up rock. I think Punk side, but I’ll allow for the argument that they’re alot like early Metallica (the poses and look of their lead singer are certainly remiscent of Metallica). These guys really suffered from a lack of stage presence: they spent their entire set watching themselves play, and for the lead singer, hiding behind his hair. They were driven by their bassist, a lefty who kicked it out with some excellent bass lines. Partnered with some rock-god guitar work and shouted lyrics, they rocked out, without pretense. I’ve been on something of a garage/(old-school) punk rock kick of late, and these guys, while clearly needing some work, fit into the category.

Next up (and I think that the second band has the least enviable time slot – immediately after the first, and with Jokes For Beer separating them from the third band, a long way from the end of the night) was A Virgin in Hollywood. The best thing about them is that they looked like they were having a blast on stage. Their lead guitarist, a kindof Shaggy (of Scooby-Doo) look alike, bounced around manically, while keeping up with some fine guitar work. The drummer, equally manic, really drove their sound, pounding away back there. They are fronted by a female bassist, who, it must be said, didn’t quite cut it for me. It started poorly – the first song they sang, called ‘One Wish’ (or something similar), was standard rock. Unfortunately, the singer chose to emulate Gwen Stefani as closely as possible. Had this been consistent, I would’ve marked it up as having the misfortune of sounding just like her. However, on most of the subsequent songs, her voice (while similar), was distinctive in its own right. But all told, they were really quite generic, not terribly tight and to get a better grade from me, would probably need some retooling – perhaps featuring the lead guitar more strongly, a change of singer, something along those lines.

The third band of the night, Human Hi-lite Reel, were of a completely different category. I really had trouble figuring them out. They were jazzy, humorous and ironic (I believe that I wrote something like ‘endearingly Ben Folds Five-like). A three piece, consisting of pared-down drums, bass (sometimes guitar) and organ (along with keyboards and a mixer). They played wierd, off-kilter songs, were loose, clearly comfortable with each other (the difference between the level and quality of their on-stage communication and the other two bands was immense). However, I was never quite sure whether they were a drawn-out joke or really just a wacky band. I did quite enjoy them, although the tonal range played on the organ was fairly small, which began to irk me by the end of their set. The singer (and organist) was ‘an everybody’s best friend’ type of guy, all self-deprecating, with a cute habit, of holding up both hands after each song, saying ‘thank you very much’.

It was a toss up for me who to vote for between My Funeral & Human Hi-Lite Reel, but in the end, I cast a vote for My Funeral, because of the lack of pretense (which matches my own current rock kick), and because I think I could quickly get irritated by Human Hi-Lite Reel if the schtick continued in the same vein.

However, the other judges differed, and Human Hi-Lite Reel won, moving on to the next round.

Next week’s trio sounds excellent on the website, so I’m pretty stoked for it. So if you missed last night, be sure not to miss next week’s.

SHiNDiG 2002!

Tomorrow is the inaugural night of SHiNDiG 2002. Occuring every Tuesday Night, 9:00pm (to more-or-less midnight) at the Railway club, SHiNDiG is an excellent way to check out potentially up-and-coming bands in Vancouver, plus I’ll be there, in the odd chance you need yet another reason to show up.

The SHiNDiG website also features sample songs of the bands competing each week, so you can check out whether any of the bands are for you, if you don’t like surprises. Personally, I like surprises, so I just show up every week, ready to enjoy myself.

So come on out tomorrow (and every Tuesday afterwards). I’ll be there. For additional encouragement, the sample songs of this weeks bands are really pretty impressive.

SHiNDiG (week 4)

So last night was another edition of SHiNDiG at the Railway club.

It was not very good last night, which is a shame, as I was a judge, so I had a hard decision : which of these three bands that I didn’t like should win?

Anyhoo, the first band. ‘Disco Incognito’ was a mess of a band – mixing ska with generic metal. And just plain too loud. They’d already been asked to turn it down, and my ears were still hurting afterwards. Blegh. The second band was a one-man thing named ‘Mr. Plow’. If he wasn’t so clearly a joke, I probably would have voted him first, as he was hilarious. Really dark, bitter humor that I quite enjoy. Included songs such as ‘I hate the Tragically Hip’ and ‘Incest’, an ode to the joys thereof.

The last band, ‘0 as is’ was what you’d find if you looked up ‘no-talent pretentious prog-rock’ in the dictionary. There were definitely the most interesting, however, putting forth a bad mixture of punk and new wave. They got bonus points because their drummer played an iBook, rather than a drumset…

In the end, I voted in reverse order of appearance.

Hopefully next week will be better..

SHiNDiG, week 3!

So I missed SHiNDiG last week, my bad. I apparently didn’t miss too much, however.

This week, I managed to miss the first band, as Leah had invited some friends over in a little goodbye get together for Hao-Chun (sp?), a friend of hers who is moving to Taiwan.

Mark assures me that I didn’t miss much by describing the first band as being radio-friendly, a little like Soul Decision, only rockier. Hmm, so in other words, they sucked.

The second band, who’s name is Shrimp Meat, was great. A punk trio in the oldest sense of the word, they would’ve looked and sounded right at home at CBGB’s some 20-plus years ago in NYC. They totally rocked. A nice mix of tuneful instrumentals and catchy, intelligent lyrics. Their last song was you’re basic punk anthem called ‘Social Class Warfare’, I assume. The chorus was:

Social class warfare!

Build another fence!

Social class warfare!

Build another fence.

The song ended with the chorus, followed by: ‘you fuck!’. Anyhoo, really, really great band, who’d I’d love to see again, even if they did sound a little dated. Mm – that’s right, and dressed the part too. The bassist was a woman wearing a mesh top over a 1-shouldered thing, under a green hunting-vest. She wore cut of jean-like things over striped stockings & big-assed combat boots. Her hair was all short, except for a section on the top, that was long and kinda hanging over the side. She was even wearing big, angular, dangly earrings. All that was missing from her get-up was egyptian-influenced eye-liner and she’d be full on 1979.

Continue reading “SHiNDiG, week 3!”


So tonight was the first night for SHiNDiG at the Railway Club. Man, was I ever ready for this tonight, after today. I couldn’t even escape empty commentary on TSN, where they were having in depth discussions about the role of sport during times like these. And EVERY channel on the TV had some sort of coverage it seemed. Made me sick. If there’s no news, don’t fucking report it. And you know what else? I could give a rat’s ass about the economy at times like these.

Anyhoo, I digress.

Continue reading “Shindig!”

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