Ark. Times Musicians Showcase Round 2 winner Nik and Sam (that's opposite of how they're pictured above.
Second week, same as the first: A big crowd, partial to whooping, packed into Sticky Fingerz to see four really
diverse acts — Loch Ness Monster
, Nik and Sam
, Gina Gee
and Whale Fire
— play impressive sets at round two of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase
. There were props: plastic hair, goggles, a walkie talkie, fancy cowboy boots, a wig. There were songs of all shapes: man-done-me-wrong songs, songs that rhymed Xanadu with Timbuktu, cheatin' songs, one minute songs, songs about Jeff Matika. And there were stage antics: simulated microphone cord asphyxiation, crowd roaming, elaborate dance routines, twins.
All the acts got crowd love, but like last week, as much as the love was spread, our judges judged and Nik and Sam eked out a win.
Here's what they had to say about they had to say about our first round winner:
"Love the hair; I wish I had their hair. Need nose rings and tattoos."
Guest Judge Jim Mize
"Energetic, confident. Poised for pop-country greatness. Can seem them performing on bigger stages. Expert harmonies. Ready for the radio."
"'Down Home' is the business. Nik's voice is cool. Sam's musical presence is the real deal."
"These girls definitely have a future! Good songs, great voices, regardless of their age. These girls can play, too! Will be very interested to see how far this band goes. "
"These girls can sing and play — no doubt. Would love to see them expand beyond formulaic Nashville songs, though."
UPDATE: More rundown and pics after the jump.
Sam and Nik. Photo by Brian Chilson.
Nik. Photo by Brian Chilson.
Like I said earlier: Don’t mistake the girls from Dover for a marketing gimmick. They're identical twins. They're 16. They're cute. But they're also real musicians. They both sing. They both write. They both play their instruments with skill that belies their age.
Their performance on Thursday was confident and charismatic. They shook their big hair, kicked up their cowboy boots and jumped around like little kids. It was infectious to watch.
Pop music is fickle business. As half a dozen former sure-things in Central Arkansas can attest, there’s no predicting who makes it. Still, you can’t help, when you hear a song like “Down Home” (“I say hey y’all, but that don’t bother me/’cause I know where I come from, and you ain’t seen it on no show on MTV”), in all its radio-ready sheen, thinking that it’s just got to be a matter of time …
Loch Ness Monster. Photo by Brian Chilson.
Sulac. Photo by Brian Chilson.
The runners-up kept things interesting: In what’ll surely be the most theatrical performance of the Showcase, Loch Ness Monster’s
Sulac took the stage with a plastic high-top wig, googles and a walkie talkie, which he used to filter his voice on the band’s opening song. Quickly, the wig came off, the walkie talkie got discarded and the goggles started drifting up his head. Things devolved, entertainingly, from there.
Sulac drifted all around the stage, off the stage in the crowd, on the floor. Throughout, he hollered, infectiously. His mates gave him plenty to work with. Their driving post-punk, and Brian Hirrell’s fearsome guitar playing in particular, drew praise from our judges. 607 said that their music “is that super-good kind of loud” and that Sulac speaks “in tongues.” Nicole Boddington said the band “kind of made her nervous, but in an exciting way.” Jason Weinheimer called Sulac the “love child of Iggy Pop and Michael Stipe” and proclaimed Hirrel among Little Rock’s finest guitarists.
Gina Gee. Photo by Brian Chilson. Gina Gee. Photo by Brian Chilson.
R&B standout Gina Gee
followed and also got high marks. Jason Tedford said she was “probably the best [vocalist] in the Showcase so far” but wished she’d brought a live band to back her. She did bring dancers — two identically dressed ladies, who did choreographed moves, and a guy in sunglasses and a hat with a tilted brim, who did some grinding. And she worked the stage well, dancing and sing fluidly and interacting with the audience. Look out for her solo debut in September; it’s bound to be the real deal.
Whale Fire. Photo by Brian Chilson. Whale Fire. Photo by Brian Chilson.
The new-ish indie-pop band Whale Fire
closed out the evening with a smart set. Tedford gave them props for their “fun, energetic, well-crafted pop songs” and said he thought they’d “make a great record.” He and other judges also appreciated that the band alternates between two lead singers and often works in three-part harmony. 607, in typically oblique fashion, called it “early autumn music” and said it “makes [him] wanna make out with somebody’s mother.”