ShiNDiG! First night! September 10 was the first of 13 consecutive Tuesday evenings devoted to CiTR’s annual live music competition. Three bands entered the Railway Club, but only one advanced to the next round. Your Funeral, A Virgin in Hollywood, and Human Highlite Reel were an impressive start to the contest.
Your Funeral is a punk band, and a tight one. The lead guitarist, whose long hair perhaps belies the band’s buzzsaw sound, dropped great solos into short and smart songs. The song that must be the band’s theme, “Your Funeral,” was a highlight. With choruses shouted by the entire group, and synchronized skyward punches, this high-revving machine called Your Funeral set a high standard as the first band of Shindig! 2002.
A Virgin in Hollywood plays pop music, as in “tapping your hand against your beer and smiling even though the singing tells such sad stories” pop music. Theirs were easily the most hook-laden songs of the night. Their bassist is their lead singer, and her no-nonsense bass lines held things together well, even when her singing became perhaps too theatrical. This band, obviously confident in their musicianship, put on an energetic show, maintaining high spirits through the entire set.
Human Highlite Reel plays pop music, as in “some fairly off-kilter keyboard-based” pop music. Their frontman, from the back of the stage, used a couple of keyboards and a Radio Shack Boxing Day sale’s worth of gadgetry to provide all of the melody, while shouting his lyrics in a matter-of-fact tone. His constant mock-chiding of his bandmates was hilarious (to the sweating drummer: “Why did you wear a sweater?!”). When not joking with each other and the crowd, Human Highlite Reel found the place where creativity and technical proficiency meet, and stayed there for each of their songs. The band’s drummer and bassist made like a metronome and clicked, as they say.
After the ballots were cast and counted, it was found that the panel of judges had deadlocked. A tie-breaking CiTR volunteer had to contribute an extra vote, and that put Human Highlite Reel on top of the pile and into the next round.
Note: The segment of the night during which would-be comedians are given beer for telling jokes—“Jokes for Beer”—was a painful exercise. The audience listened to joke after played-out joke, giving the collective shout of approval to very few jesters. The hecklers, frankly, offered the best laughs. My hint: if the joke appears in a volume titled 101 Jokes to Crack Up Your Friends at Recess, leave it there. Please.