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Memorial Day Battle of the Bands

June 14, 2011

During the Memorial Day weekend, there was an awesome Battle of the Bands event. What made it so special this time around was the surprising fact that we hadn't actually even planned it! In fact, we were kind of hoping to do without it altogether this year.

Last year's Battle of the Bands was a major disappointment. We had put up flyers all over the place and told everyone we knew to be there, and had invited every musician within fifty miles to come and participate. I put my heart and soul into that, and in the end the only person who came was Bert, and the only musician who performed was Norm, and he was really only there so he could tend the bar. That's why I didn't even write about the event last year, out of pure shame and embarrassment. There was nothing to report.

Later on, I heard that everyone had passed on the event because Carrot Top was doing a show that very night at Adlai Mortensen College. Man, blown out of the water by Carrot Top. It's taken me a full year to deal with the damage to my ego, but now I feel like I can finally talk about it.

So, anyway, because of all that, I figured that it would be best not to even schedule anything for Memorial Day. As usual, it would just be an open weekend, with no acts slated to perform, which has kind of become the usual routine around here, since when people commit to performing at a certain time, they never show up, and other people show up all the time at the last minute, asking to perform even though they never reserved the time. So, I figured, why bother, who cares, big deal, etc. I was feeling pretty cynical in the days leading up to the Memorial Day weekend.

Well, little did I know it, but a few people had asked Catherine if we had anything special planned for Memorial Day weekend. And her response was, they had a battle of the bands last year so I figure they'll have one this year too. I guess she remembered the flyers from last year, even though she didn't attend. So, Cody Ferguson of the Psychedelic Mindblowers started bragging that his band would win the contest hands-down, and that comment got back to the Rocking Dudes, who begged to differ, and claimed that they would take the honors, and then a $100 bet was made, and Bert and Catherine were appointed official contest judges by an ad hoc committee. The ball was rolling and I didn't even know it.

Without any effort on my part whatsoever, word got around town, more monetary bets were made, more judges were added by the ad hoc committee, and the Friday night before Memorial Day weekend, several bands and solo musicians descended upon Uncle Steve's with a large group of appointed talent judges, some more appointed than others.

Saturday night's attendance was even better than Friday night's, and on Sunday night we did something we've never done as long as I've been at the club -- we had standing room only, and people crowding around outside trying to get in.

Supposedly, the winners of the contest were to be decided at 12 midnight that evening, but when the ballots were collected, the results were indecisive, and then Catherine was accused of stuffing the ballot box, which led to an uproar and, sadly, a bit of scuffling, and the cops came and shut us down. So, everyone could keep the money that they had bet, which in my view was a good thing.

A few new acts performed that are worth mentioning:

Rover, Fido and Rex:

This is a rap group that uses dog names because, according to them, they're all "dogs" in the slang-terminology sense, as in: "What up, dog?" Just so you know, they are all white and from middle-class suburban families. You shouldn't be surprised, of course. They are backed up by a home-made CD, mixed at Rover's house, which they blast through our sound system and rap to. Common expressions used are "yo," "word to the mother," "I be killing them other MCs," and "my bitches and hoes." They've mastered several hand expressions and postures used by popular rappers on MTV. I think they need several days of intensive counseling from Cesar Millan.

Lady Blah-Blah:

As if Lady Gaga herself isn't parody enough, Lady Blah-Blah takes it one step further by being a bargain-bin version of the original. Just imagine Lady Gaga without any fancy techno music backing her up, wearing an odd assortment of clothes picked up at the Salvation Army, and about 50 extra pounds. There you have it. She is backed up musically by her boyfriend, whose name I don't recall. He plays a 1980s-era Casio electronic keyboard with two or three different programmable beats. She was booed off the stage the first time she performed, but after she burst into tears, she was given the opportunity for an encore, and after listening to her for a few more minutes, we kind of realized that she had an odd type of Romeo-Void-like appeal.

Sonic Detonation:

The name for this band is kind of cool, but then again, not really. That's kind of how I feel about them as musicians. At first, when they start up a song, you think, hey, they're kind of good, then after about thirty seconds, you think, well, maybe not all that good. They're loud and crunchy, and sometimes the drum and bass get into some nice grooves together, but the lead singer has a kind of whiny voice that doesn't really fit with the hard-rock vibe that the rest of the band gets into, although I've been told that other bands out there are like that. Sorry, that kind of arrangement doesn't work for me, although to be fair, they did get a decent amount of positive crowd response. To each his own, as the saying goes.

Struggle for Dominance:

Quite frankly, I'm sorry that these guys were allowed into Uncle Steve's. I think that their music caused our decorative house plants to wilt. I'm serious, and I've read about how certain kinds of heavy metal music can do this. The lead vocalist sings in the shred style, which to me sounds like Sesame Street's Cookie Monster on steroids. I'm glad I can't understand what he's saying, because with all the swastika tattoos on their arms, I would be afraid to find out. But I'm pretty sure that the absurd and laughable idea of a white Christian super race is a big part of it all. I hope they understand how someone like me, whose last name happens to be Silverman, might not be all that thrilled with their music. But then again, I have a pretty good hunch that they're not too concerned about what I think.

One final note is that, after having disappeared for several months, lo and behold, Pete Wilkinson of Nazi Sex Zombies showed up during the Battle of the Bands weekend, and he had my car, which he had borrowed from me in October of last year!

When I saw Pete, I said, hey, Pete, glad you're back, do you have my car? And he apologized and everything, told me a long and complicated story, and I really totally understand, and again, like I said, he was very apologetic and everything. You just can't help but have sympathy for the guy -- he's been through a lot, you know.

So, I asked him, could I have my keys, and he said, oh, sure, I left them in the car, I'm pretty sure.

I went running over to my car, and there it was, unlocked, and a bit beat up from the last several months with Pete, but still appeared to be drive-able. I got in, but no keys in the ignition, or in the glove compartment, or under the seat, or anywhere.

I left the car and went looking for Pete for thirty minutes, there were a lot of people in the club, but I couldn't find him. So, I went back to the parking lot, and my car was gone!

Pete, if you are reading this, I'm sorry that we got our signals crossed there at the club that night, and I understand that you had every intention of giving me my car back, but you know how it goes. I just want to let you know that I have a moped, so I'm doing okay, but when you are able to give me my car back, I mean, when you are able to make do without it and all, I sure would like to have it back. So, no rush, but when you can get it back to me, that would be awesome.

-- Jake Silverman

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