It was a warm and cozy night at the Railway Club on Tuesday Nov. 16 when three bands were to compete in CITR’s Shindig Semi-Finals #1. The Railway was quite full but the crowd was quiet. Performing were the Clockmakers, Sajia Sultana and Wizerdz.
First up was Clockmakers. Four mid-twenties gentlemen set up on stage, looking half scruffy, half classy. No crowd response. The first chords strummed by guitarist Cole MacKinnon led me to believe this was going to be a good performance. The band’s songs were well crafted and duly well performed. Guitar chords created a platform for vocalist Nicholas Jones to sing atop. His singing created an intimate performance, holding back until the band reached great heights in their choruses. This reminded me of the Stills or Band of Horses. I saw audience members smile at each other as is if asking “Why aren’t these guys big yet?” To my surprise there was a heckler during the whole performance. This band put on a treat for us and it won’t be a surprise if they are playing on bigger stages soon.
Next was Sajia Sultana, a Bangladeshi singer who takes a lot of her influence from traditional folk and art songs from Bangladesh. To a Westerner she may sound like spoken word poetry with singing as well. This is the tradition of Bengali folk music. Her poetry is quite striking with lyrics about religious strife, the struggles of being in a relationship, gender equality, ecological problems and politics. She was joined by a guitarist and drummer which served to further accentuate her poetry, not to form melodies. Musically I wouldn’t say she led us through peaks and valleys but the emotional content of her music did. She sang with emotional honesty and conviction which made it truly interesting to listen to her music, as evidenced by the crowd that formed below her stage.
Finally, it was Wizerdz who took the stage. After a long delay behind the curtain they finally
appeared… as wizards! Yes, they appeared as wizards, which was awesome. These guys got all decked out in wizard costumes, beards and all, and performed electronic dance music. They might not have performed to the right crowd but they did seem to have a lot of fun and got some people out of their chairs to dance. They introduced each song as a “spell” and rambled through a set full of dance songs and wizardy live electronics. Having drums there really added the element of liveliness to it all and it kept the beats loud. The crowd was enthusiastic and at the end they released a real dragon onto the audience. Yes, a real dragon. [ed. I can verify that the dragon was definitely real, with claws and fire and shit. Also they won.]