Week Two of SHiNDiG was an odd one: my feelings upon attending were the opposite of how I’d thought I’d react based on the website’s demo songs. 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 wasn’t makeup).
I was most excited to see the first band, Woody, whose track “Kitsilano Cowboy” was hilariously ironic and alt-country. They presented well on stage, with three of them in matching black bowling shirts with a wide blue stripe. Unfortunately, their performance was not nearly so inspired as a synchronized wardrobe. A mix of country and 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, forcing the three guys to play a surf-guitar track. I immediately thought that perhaps they were originally a surf act and the singer was their Yoko Ono.
I’d noticed that, during Woody’s set, the crowd was unusually boisterous, but it hadn’t bothered me. Unfor-tunately, My Project: Blue, who were the second act of the night, really deserved some quiet. A quartet featuring two acoustic guitars, drums and mini-moog/bass, they had a soft, ethereal sound that seemed 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 and 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, and they left me in a meditative mood as they walked off-stage.
Goshen was… atmospheric rock? An instrumental three-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 or interaction with the audience—they just played through their set and 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 either way.
The judges had it easy this night—My Project: Blue was so much better than either of the other two bands; indeed, I’d say they’ve an excellent chance of winning SHiNDiG this year.