The third week of SHiNDiG was all about the rock I grew up with, sequentially. First up was In Medias Res, who hearkened back to the days of plaid flannel and post-teen angst of Seattle Grunge. In the middle was the pleasing pop-rock of The Basement Sweets echoing the Halifax pop-rock scene full of quirky, songs, easy-to-listen-to music and something interesting to say. We ended the night with a return to today’s pared-down garage rock via the two-piece, The Skeleton Folk. It was a great trip through the last 10 years of my life.
In Medias Res started the night off just right with an old-school but immediately accessible sound. They were grunge to a T in sound and attitude: from the “I’m too cool to know what to say” mumblings of the lead singer between songs (“It looks like you’re just watching us,” “W-W-W…W…no, 3-w’s,” “This is our next song”), to the slow/furious mix that made it all work so well, and it paid off with a pretty kick-ass show.
I was suspicious of The Basement Sweets when they came on. They have one of those “funny-at-first, less funny every time afterward” names and looked like they might start into weird, introspective art-rock, but ended up playing pretty straight-up pop-rock. Unfortunately, they were appallingly mistake-prone, which I found somewhat charming, but I suspect others may be less forgiving with. Running the gamut of pseudo-Sloan to pseudo-Talking Heads, their charming little observations made for some interesting pop songs, but their sound was a little barren and would probably do well with an additional instrument.
After a rather tepid Jokes For Beer segment, The Skeleton Folk—a girl/boy two-piece featuring she on drums, he on guitar and vocals—took the stage and immediately started having problems. He broke a string on the first song, but fortunately had a spare guitar, so they continued a meandering, pleasingly banal set of songs.
As I’d expected from the halfway point of their set, In Medias Res carried the night, rounding out the finalists for the first semi-final. It’ll be an interesting battle, I think, between these three winners.