King Street Live, Masterton
Band Slam has quickly turned into my favourite gig at King Street Live. Basically, three acts perform on the third Thursday of every month, with an hour for each act. Just two evenings in, it’s immediately become highly varied with a very high calibre of performance, at the same time having a pleasant low key informality about the night.
I missed Back to the Remedy, and arrived just as Shindig were into their first or second song, the Pretenders “I’m Special. I can’t find a website or Facebook page for Shindig although they do pop up online playing a various events in the Tararua district where they hale from. So I can’t even give the members’ names, anyway . . .
Between songs they are introduced by the female vocalist as “just a covers band playing something to suit everybody.” I find the term “covers band” a bit unfair to bands like Shindig. I think of covers bands as basically imitative in their approach – trying as hard as possible to sound like the original hit. I’m excited these days by today’s so-called covers bands. I love it when a band takes on an old song and gives it a fresh energy.
The female vocalist reminded me of some of the great pop vocalists of the 1960s and 1970s like Cher. What various gigs at King Street Live have been highlighting is just how many different styles of guitar playing there are today. Shindig’s lead guitarist has a classic rock style, to some degree reminiscent of Mick Ronson, with a warm rich full sound.
I pretty much love most of what they do on the night although The Monkey’s “I’m A Believer” comes across a bit flat. It just doesn’t have the right rhythm to suit the band. On the other hand, they do a fine version of Glen Frey’s The Heat Is On, a song I’ve heard a million times but never taken much notice of before. Except that their version made sense of the lyrics. The “heat” being turned on in waves of lust and street energy. It’s all in the energy your project around the lyrics.
“The heat is on, on the street/ Inside your head, on every beat/And the beat’s so loud, deep inside/ The pressure’s high, just to stay alive/ ‘Cause the heat is on”
“The shadow’s high on the darker side/ Behind those doors, it’s a wilder ride/ You can make a break, you can win or lose/ That’s a chance you take, when the heat’s on you/ When the heat is on”
Venus in Transit, by contrast, are children of rock’s evolution from the seventies to the present. There’s an intense guitar sound that could equally remind one of the heavy metal of Led Zeppelin, prog rock virtuosos Yes, the grunge of Smashing Pumpkins or even the neo-New Wave of Franz Ferdinand.
Nevertheless, there’s a definite pop element to their sound and like Franz Ferdinand, all they are looking for is one pop hit in the vein of Take Me Out, to get them noticed. I believe every band, no matter how alternative they may think they are, should attempt to conjure the magic of the pop hit single. It’s good discipline.
Venus in Transit sticks to the white side of rock for the most part but it’s interesting to note that the band wears Destiny Child’s Survivor extremely well, the song revealing a striking similarity between in voice between Shayna Tweed and Jennifer Lopez.
It’s music I can appreciate on the night for the calibre of the performance, although possibly a bit introvert and self involved in its lyrics, with a bit of sameness and predictability around the structure of the songs.
Apart from the calibre of each band, what impresses me is their professionalism in putting on such a high standard of performance for a very small audience.