Five Year Mission is boldly doing what no band has done before: write a song for all 80 (or so) episodes of the original “Star Trek” television series.
There were many great acts this year at Gen-Con in Indianapolis, Indiana, this past weekend, but few as creative as these five local boys who played instruments while cosplaying as Starfleet officers. It sounds like a recipe for a mildly amusing but gimmicky band, but these young men quickly proved there was more to them during their show at the Westin Inn’s ballroom Saturday, August 17.
The band has been around for three or four years and has accumulated a growing fanbase, as was seen by the line for their show that snaked through the hotel’s second floor hall. When the crowd was let in, the band announced that print copies of their first album, “Year One,” were sold out.
The first thing one will notice about the band is their musical talent. Four of the five members switched instruments—which include lead guitar, bass guitar, and keyboards—from song to song. Only their drummer remained at his station the entire time. These aforementioned four band members also took turns singing since each of them wrote some of their songs.
The band’s sound was as varied as the colors of their uniforms. Each song was given a distinctive style indicative of the episode it paid tribute to. Some songs seemed to harken back to Beatles. Some are straight modern rock. The song for the popular episode “The Trouble with Tribbles” is done in a Beastie Boys rock-rap style. All of it worked.
Likewise, the lyrics for the songs range from serious, even thought-provoking retellings of the episodes to hilarious supplemental ditties. The latter was seen best in “The Corbomite Maneuver.” In that episode, the Enterprise is confronted by a massive spherical vessel and Captain Kirk has to bluff his way out by claiming the ship was carrying a destructive substance called corbomite that would take them both out. The song instead was a humorous infomercial for the substance.
Five Year Mission’s growing popularity is in part due to their theatrics. In the past, they were known for recruiting audience members to wear a Gorn mask when they performed “Arena.” Now, however, the Gorn has been reformed by the band and serves as their mascot. Several times he wandered through the ballroom and interacted with fans. That night they also did something they said they had only done two other times live. It was done by request. During the song for “Amok Time,” two band members left the stage and re-enacted the famous fight between Kirk and Spock from the episode, complete with props.
The band’s goal is to spread the 80 songs they intend to write over the course of five albums, which they will release once a year (hence their name). Currently, the band has two full-length albums and an EP. The albums are simply titled “Year One” and “Year Two.” With the exception of “The Cage,” the songs are listed in broadcast rather than production order of the respective episodes. Their EP, “The Trouble with Tribbles,” features a song written by each band member for that episode. When it was first released, fans voted on which of the songs would be included in the band’s next album. The EP also features two bonus tracks, including a song celebrating George Takei’s (aka Sulu) birthday.
Their next album, “Year Three,” which will feature songs for the episodes “The Doomsday Machine” and “Mirror, Mirror,” among others, should be out by November. That will be just in time for Starbase Indy, a convention for “Star Trek” and “Stargate” in Indianapolis.
Here’s hoping they continue to be a staple of Gen-Con.