What is Shindig and why do I not need overalls or a shovel to attend?

Red Gate’s address is on Main Street, but Google Maps notoriously takes people to the back entrance of the building (I’m people).

Most outsmart the app and pay attention to the blatantly obvious sign by the Main Street entrance and mozy in. Rookie behaviour? Guilty.

Nay, it was just my luck, because I came face to face with the charmingly kitschy mural that casts the building in yellow over the alley-facing courtyard that looks like it was designed and painted while on a good trip, unlike the all-black front.

I awkwardly stumbled into a hazy room with a slightly elevated platform pushed against the back wall, trying to figure out what people were saying above the noises of soundcheck.

Shining… shilling… shined… Shindig?

What’s a Shindig?

As I was asking myself this, solo act Goats and Lasers agreed to answer my queries. No, I’m not referring to a frenzy of petting zoo animals and pyrotechnics. Obviously, I’m talking about the improvising techno-ambient grandmaster, Ana-Eve Shendebray.

“I haven’t been nervous for a show in a while,” Shendebray said. For a Tuesday evening, the room was packed. “It’s a fun little [underground] indie show.”

But the stakes are high, because Shindig, curated and hosted by CiTR radio, is a battle-of-the-bands-esque celebration of local talents revealing their craft.

“It puts more eyes on these underground Vancouver bands that wouldn’t have UBC eyes on them anyways,” added the band’s guitarist and singer Alec Taylor.

Every Tuesday of November, four musical acts performed for audiences, critiqued by a panel of judges affiliated with CiTR. After four shows, the top four bands compete in the finals.

But everyone in the room is friends. You can feel the warm energy well into the evening.

“It really highlights the whole atmosphere of the Vancouver music scene… It's a super supportive event,” Colten Williams of Cat Larceny said. “It's a lot more than what [an event of this kind] could be.”

In this city, there’s a different genre around every corner.

Goats and Lasers’ set experimented with the science of sampling. Conducting the audience in flurries of snapping fingers to replicate a sound synonymous with the patter of raindrops, and crescendo waves of oohs and ahhs like howling wind to create an ecolocative soundscape against synchronized engineered beats and colourful poppy synths.

After saving up as a music teacher, Shendebray invested in the OP-1 that now grounds her shows. It’s a synthesizer sampler and synchronizer.

The next Tuesday I stopped into the venue just in time for Cat Larceny to show the crowd what honest shoegaze sounds like — dreamy, bittersweet, distorted and ethereal.

Eva Lucia, one of the band’s singers, told us that Cat Larceny began when her and guitarist Alec Taylor attended local shows together and wondered what it would be like to be on the other side of the room, on stage.

But Shindig is particularly special for her. “[Shindig is also about] keeping a record of these really cool bands over time. I was in a record store a couple of months ago and I was just sifting through the records and I saw a CiTR Shindig record from the 90s,” said Lucia. “It's mainly punk vibes and I love it.”

Bloom Effect tied up that night with an explosive knot of psychedelia.

I stood towards the middle of the floor to shun away from the projection of the speakers’ blasts, but it was futile. They wanted to make the ground quake from the guitar whose feedback was looped to the max, so warped I was sensing chords I didn’t even know existed.

With Bloom Effect, I finally felt the weight of Shindig in my core — whether it was the stomping of scuffed docs on the laminate floor, or the thudding bass that resuscitated the ground under my feet, I was finally shindigging.

And just as I was thinking, pff, I don’t need ear plugs, I’m a big kid, I watched in disbelief as the delayed keys of the synth faded out, and everyone around me removed wads of rubber from their ears, meditating on the ringing in my head that should have subsided by then.

Spaced out, I booked it to the skytrain in the midnight rain, dissecting the shows the whole way there.

On December 5 at the Red Gate Arts Society, catch Shindig’s finale, where Seeing Grey, Worrywart, The Hausplants and Feedlot will duke it out (musically — we don’t condone aggression). Admission is $10 with ID. I know I’ll be there, coming in through the front.