The Band Swap challenge:
35 musicians (give or take, am I right?) are randomly assembled into seven bands at a swap meet, where they are assigned four cover songs. Each band then has 24 hours to master their songs – or figure out some way to butcher them completely and appropriately.
Here is where it gets fun:
I love watching people out of their element, and Band Swap is notorious for taking otherwise comfortable musicians and pushing them onstage where they are surrounded by a veritable minefield of banana peels. With the spotlight shining directly on every musical flaw and foible, tellingly, as a participant, it’s impossible to take yourself seriously. Likewise, as an audience member, the drummer flailing helplessly on the guitar not only looks silly but sounds fairly absurd as well.
I am certain everyone has their own highlight – there are far too many to list here – so a step-by-step review is pointless. But if I had to pick my favourite moment it would be Shawn Karpinka rapping “Ms. Jackson” by Outkast – a song I had suggested. Sometimes amazing supersedes flawless and Shawn utterly nailed it while being completely fucking adorable at the same time. Swoon!
Here is where it gets interesting:
The bands and the audience are one and the same, or at least they can be. 2011 saw many new faces on stage, while past participants watched from the wings and nodded knowingly. Band Swap is an idea that is performed, bungled and executed once a year, which is both appropriate and amazing. But it warms the cockles of my heart to know that this where the line between performer and audience is blurred. The music is paramount but the idea that we are supporting something far bigger and grander than ourselves is more important than Ginther hilariously blowing another power chord.
Here is where it gets important:
Someone on the internet snitched that Band Swap has brought in $22,000 in total over six years to be donated to the Saskatoon Crisis Nursery’s Nutrition Program, along with a mountain of non-perishable food.
Saskatoon fucking rules, okay?
— Videos by Ryan Smith, Photos by Hannah Stocker