Monday, August 09, 2004

Breaking Out (like prisoners, acne, and new bands)

And speaking of band competitions and judges, I got a phone call from Cait on Saturday, alerting me to the little-known fact that I was supposed to judge the finals of the Goodyear event. The screening was about three weeks ago, and it was a long night, listening to eight amateur (and I do mean amateur) bands do a cover song and an original--a song for the sponsors, something about freedom...and tires. Well, they didn't specify "tires," but you know that's what they meant. They were looking for a song they could use on the ads for their new line of tires. I was planning to subtract ten points from bands who used "Goodyear" in their lyrics, but nearly everyone did anyway.

The bands were so, so charmingly inexperienced. Cait didn't know what to make of the fact that the bands didn't even know what a "tech rider" is; one of them thought that the organizers were going to provide all the instruments. There was an all girl band (called No Boys Allowed, I believe), whose members looked like they were just out of high school and had just learned to play their instruments a week ago. They prayed before and after their performance, did a Cranberries cover, and launched into a not-bad alternative rock Goodyear composition. They must've finished dead last, though, not least because their guitar was badly grounded, and was emitting a loud droning noise throughout their set, and the lead singer looked like she was going to cry because of it.

Of the 13 bands who signed up for the competition, eight showed up, and four were picked out for the finals: Maharlika, Maryz Ark, Psywar, and Sunflower Day Camp--playing, respectively, prog/hard rock, Britpoppy indie-y music, heavy metal, and ska.

Needless to say, I wasn't too keen on going back for the finals, but there I was again, having given up a dinner-and-movie date with myself to pencil in scores into little boxes while praying that my eardrums or my brain wouldn't explode. I was an hour and a half late going to Le Pavilion, but things still hadn't started. I'd been requested to be there by 6:30, was told the bands were going to start at 7:30. They started playing at 9pm. And my low blood sugar by then probably resulted in all four finalists getting lower scores than they deserved.

To be fair, the four bands really did show some promise, and most of them showed a marked improvement from the first time I heard them play. There was a bigger crowd than expected, and before long, there was a good mosh pit going, and people were body-surfing and headbanging, even to the Britpop band. And everyone worked the crowd like they were pros. But they were amateurs, still. Maharlika mic-tested over Marc Abaya and Patty Laurel's onstage spiel, prompting Marc to ask if they were on drugs. (He should ask.) And the lyrics were sometimes so bad they were laughable and nauseating at the same time ("Let your wheels be the best one!").

Sunflower Day Camp emerged the winner, the clean, happy joy of their music defeating the testosterone vote on the panel. I'd say that they were the best band there--they got my vote, too--but personal biases aside, how do you compare bands whose music is so different from one another? Sunflower Day Camp won because their music was fun, accessible, rich, and melodic, and because their performance was so entertaining and tight. I don't know if that makes them the best, though. Each band had a different style, a different appeal, different merits.

That said, if there's anything I'd like to hear from the amateur band scene these days, it's something original. I don't mind if it's not too good yet. I'd just like to hear something new.

And in other news...when did other people start reading this blog and posting comments? Holy shit!

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