Is Band Swap secretly a Hunger Games-style death match? No.
MUSIC by Devin Pacholik
The Exchange, The Club
Band Swap is Regina’s most exciting and dangerous event. Who will live? Who will die? Will fun be had?
Everyone, no one and hell yes.
In Band Swap, 35 local musicians are randomly mixed together to form seven new bands. Each super-group has 24 hours to learn a 20-minute set of songs from a list of musician-submitted, randomly assigned covers. The glorious event hits the Exchange and the Club’s stages on Dec. 27.
Why is this dangerous? Lots of reasons. What if mortal music enemies land in the same band? What if a band chooses to perform the “Experience Regina” song? What if every band chooses that song?
Band Swap coordinator Kathleen Wilson says her favourite part is bringing the city’s favourite local musicians together. “There are some great moments and some pretty bad moments,” she says.“But those are just as fun.”
Not only is Band Swap great for enjoying local musicians scramble for our entertainment, every dollar raised goes to Carmichael Outreach. Wilson said the benefit of having the Exchange and Long & McQuade as sponsors is that the cost of staging the event is drastically cut, which means most of the funds raised go directly to charity.
“[Carmichael Outreach] is a fantastic community centre that provides a lot of necessary services in Regina. All this brings together the arts community. It’s a great opportunity to meet other musicians and jam.”
Jamming is an important part of Band Swap, but it can also pose a challenge. One of Wilson’s favourite memories was watching a group (try to) integrate the soothing sounds of bagpipes.
“The musicians are definitely stepping out of their comfort zones and performing something to an audience they wouldn’t normally perform for.”
I spoke with four of this year’s Band Swappers to get their take on the event.
Keyboardist, “bleep blooper” and multi-instrumentalist, 3rd year
What brings you back to Band Swap?
Quickly learning a whole bunch of songs you might have never even heard of can be tricky. When you don’t really know the person you’re playing with it’s even trickier. If no one in your band is a drummer and it’s a Phil Collins song, it’s the trickiest!
How do you feel about the charitable cause?
Carmichael is far and away my favourite local charity. I would have a good time at the show if the money went somewhere else, but helping out the wonderful advocates and affected members of Carmichael is an extra sweet icing on top.
If Band Swap was a Scooby-Doo-type mystery adventure, in which you are randomly assigned a gang of kid sleuths to solve a paranormal crime involving an alien terrorizing an abandoned waterslide park, what abilities would you offer to your gang, musical or otherwise?
I’ve been told that I have a really expressive jazz face when I play, so I could contribute comedic cartoon faces when I’m scared by whichever old man is masquerading as an alien.
Singer-songwriter, 3rd year
Why do you do Band Swap?
For me, Band Swap represents a communal celebration of the local music scene. It’s kind of like a Christmas party for musicians. It’s just fun to play silly songs, and network and meet and jam with musicians in Regina.
What’s the challenge?
I’m not a very good or technical musician and I don’t jam with people that often, so having to learn songs on the fly definitely puts me out of my comfort zone. I like that though!
Assuming Band Swap is actually a training ground for a Hunger Games-like deathmatch, wherein musicians are randomly assigned to a roving murder squad, what’s the best strategy to achieve victory and honour?
Step 1: carefully blend into the background and hang out until people forget about us. Step 2: launch into a pyrotechnic infused performance of Third Eye Blind/Sugar Ray/ Enrique Iglesias that destroys everyone ever and sends Earth into a catastrophic ice age. We might go down with the ship, but it’d be so worth it.
Singer-songwriter, 2nd year
Why do you do this?
Band Swap is both an amazing opportunity to step out of one’s comfort zone and to meet new people. Last year, I was kind of nudged into playing despite having not really been involved with music for very long and not entirely feeling comfortable with any of my performance aside from singing. I ended up meeting future bandmates, and having to play bass, guitar, and keys. I learned that everybody has their strengths and weaknesses as musicians. It was incredibly humbling and probably the catalyst to me being involved in so many projects now.
How do you feel about the charitable angle?
Fuck yeah, let’s give back. Honestly, it’s such a cool event with so much support and I’m so glad that it can give back to the community beyond nurturing the music scene.
If Band Swap was actually set in the Harry Potter universe, and you were a wizard, what kinds of spells would you teach your bandmates to enhance your group’s musical prowess and defeat Lord Voldemort? Please carefully consider this pressing query.
Singer-songwriter, 4th year
What excites you about Band Swap?
The only rule to band swap is that you must be easygoing and able to roll with the punches. Being willing to roll with the punches means a fun time for both musicians and crowds alike, and it also results in some magical moments.
I remember one year where our band had pulled a Lady Gaga song out of the hat. My knee-jerk reaction was that we shouldn’t bother trying, but in the spirit of Band Swap I didn’t protest one bit and got down to work on learning it. By show time it was one of the coolest renditions of a song we had come up with, and a local classically trained musician told me we had done such a touching version she was almost in tears! So Band Swap is also great for getting some of us who might get stuck in our ways back out of our comfort zones.
If Band Swap was a gathering of Jedi and Sith musicians, which side would you take and what would be your best power?
I don’t think Sith lords would be allowed to participate in Band Swap. It takes a Jedi to pull it off.