Welp, it’s that time of year again. With September hardly feeling like it ever happened, we’re onto October — the month where new and emerging local bands gear up for CiTR’s annual quasi battle-of-the-bands, Shindig.
For those of you unfamiliar to the fun, Shindig is a yearly music competition organized by folks at the station in collaboration with other community members. Applicants are judged on a (minimum of) three-song demo and are either entered into the competition or can wallow in their tears — at least, until next year. Once Shindig is underway, three bands convene every Tuesday to play, with only one act a night advancing to the next round; the competition will be running for nine weeks starting October 21, but there will be a hiatus over the Christmas break, leaving the final nights until the New Year.
So why do I love Shindig? While I’m relatively new to the game — I attended a couple of shows in 2013 and only made the leap to regular attendee/occasional judge in 2014 — there’s something about Shindig’s format and fans that make the weekly ritual work. It’s great because: it’s an excuse to hang out with your friends every Tuesday night; there’s a new lineup of music every week, a lot of which you’ve probably never heard of; and, if it’s what you’re after, you get the cred of saying you saw [insert up-and-coming artist’s name] back before they were overplayed on The Peak. Plus, admission only costs about the same as a pint.
Despite the competitive nature of Shindig, with its weekly voting and eliminations, it never feels that way. Sure, the bands want to win but trumping everything else is the desire to be a part of the local music community. It’s hard for newer bands to break into the scene and these showcases can really help with that.
It’s not that Shindig’s the American Idol of Vancouver — though even that comparison on its own might be faulty, considering I can name a grand total of maybe two American Idol winners. Whenever people try to talk up Shindig, they namedrop some of the now big names that once competed (Japandroids, You Say Party, yada yada) but honestly I think it’s misleading. They’re just examples to show you what Shindig is about: taking bands who don’t have much of a following or need help building a local buzz and giving them an opportunity to do it.
I’ve had some great times at Shindig and I’ve met some even greater people. Whether it’s the overtly simplistic intermission round of Jokes for Beer — the name couldn’t be more literal, in that you tell a joke on stage and get a free drink ticket — or seeing some of my favourite bands for the first time, the competition has it all. For those of you competing, I wish all the best to you and good luck; for everyone else, start clearing your Tuesday evening schedules.
So it goes,