Bodies, painted by the soft pink and blue of scattered strobe lights, wandered, clustered, swayed, ricocheted off and leaned against one another as four local bands took turns occupying the foot-high stage at Red Gate Arts Society.
The third night of the four qualifying rounds for CiTR’s annual battle-of-the-bands event, known as Shindig, saw bubbles blown, knowledge of bird penises exchanged for vodka sodas, and the modest coming-together of a community of carhartt-wearing, mustache-bearing friends, musicians, and Main Street-goers of the night.
The Neighbors jump started the evening with the kind of angsty garage rock that masked the parental door-bangs which frequented my bedroom during the peak of my adolescence. The semicircle of no-man’s-land stretching out from the stage was no sooner established than it was penetrated by bodies which propelled from the crowd into the heat of guitar solos —successfully shredded — and anxieties of the meaning(lessness) of life with(out) love successively belted. Sometimes leaning towards playful pop rock comparable to The Beach Boys, sometimes towards the no-one-understands-me punk rock of Blink 182 — the virtuosic fumbling of guitar strings and drumsticks of the inaugural set left few bodies immobile.
Feet anchored themselves to the floor and eyes to the stage as Cain Price stepped up next; feet anchored perhaps in awe of the gold geometric earrings revealing themselves from behind the hair of the frontperson, perhaps for the enchanting violin, fingerpicking, and vocal harmonies that followed. Rendered speechless after the first half of their set — turning to lock-eyes and gape at the friend beside me in an attempt to communicate my emotions — my mouth tried to remember how to speak at the same time as my hands tried to remember how to come together in applause. The two songs concluding the performance revealed an alternative psych-rock side to the band that was just plain cool.
KCAR followed with an ode to the proto-punk age of The Velvet Underground and Iggy Pop. The voices of the singers blended together in song and half-screams throughout the entirety of the set, effectually punk rock and angsty as hell.
Be Afraid closed the event with a return to garage rock for the punk-hearted. I couldn’t help but think I’d never seen a less intimidating group of people as they announced their name, and that they were the coolest “uncool” band I’d ever seen. The set which followed consisted of some seriously crazy drumming, and a bouncing between near-inaudible monotone voices that I can only describe as the vibe-child of Alvvays and The Moldy Peaches. Songs ended abruptly, expressions remained fairly blank, and I felt as though Scott Pilgrim was going to manifest himself on stage at any moment to battle for Ramona — and certainly would have won.