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Buzzbox

Big Pig Shindig

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At first glance, the list of bands performing at 96.5 The Buzz's Big Pig Shindig seems like some sort of cruel joke inspired by the same radio promoters and programmers who have brought every forgettable act from Tom Cochrane to BB Mak to your ears over the past ten years. After all, who in their right mind would assemble a collection of one-hit wonders such as Vertical Horizon ("Everything You Want"), Shawn Mullins ("Lullaby"), Lucky Boys Confusion (the aptly titled "Dumb Pop Song") and Better Than Ezra ("Good") and expect people to pay $15 to $25 to see these groups? The same people who put them on the radio, that's who. But a funny thing happened along the way to filling out the rest of the bill with equally lackluster acts: They stumbled across some good ones. Though Convoy hasn't made the name for itself that its fellow Friday night performers have, it's arguably one of the most exciting groups at the Big Pig Shindig. Fans love its surprisingly cerebral rock songs and three-part harmonies, which do a lot to attract the critics too, but so far that same combination has conspired to keep Convoy off the air -- at least until its major-label debut. Big Head Todd is probably best known for its 1993 magnum-opus Sister Sweetly, an album that fused the group's talented songwriting and low-key style in a way that none of its other releases, before or since, has been able to match. Still, those eleven songs provide reason enough for fans to come out and support the group eight years later. And while Josh Joplin ranks among the Shindig's most obscure performers, he's the most talented singer and songwriter in the bunch. Joplin's first two self-released albums only hinted at the understated and powerful performance he would turn in on 1999's Useful Music (produced, very well, by none other than Mullins), on which the pop culture references fly almost as quickly as Joplin's pearls of wisdom, though he beats listeners over the head with neither. So who will win this classic battle of radio-friendly crap and critically lauded sap? The fans, who could give a damn about the differences between these factions, provided that all the groups put on an entertaining show.

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