A strange band line-up, stranger event program and general weirdness permeated the evening. I kept a running narrative of the events, and this is what I wrote as the evening transpired…
The Fine Line is gorgeous but expensive. I’m judging a battle of the bands here and had to come 2 hours before I normally hit a concert. The first band, Hollywood Burnout, was already playing when I came in and seemed to be hitting all covers.
They played a crazy 311-ish version of “Welcome to the Jungle.”
I later learned they were invited to play because the 9 year-old daughter of the guy behind the event found them on the internet and liked them.
Now there’s an event planning strategy right there.
I’m sitting at a VIP table on the VIP balcony. None of my friends came, and there’s a live action skit going on. It’s going to be a loooong night. I’m serious. They brought a motorcycle up on stage and revved it. Then a dude in a motocross jacket and another guy just held acting class on stage, complete with a dude smoking a cigarette and then a mock punch. A MOCK PUNCH.
At this point it’s hard to bail after I’ve been introduced to the crowd as one of 3 judges and everyone can see me up here! Free food is helping. It’s high class bar food. Just ate a stuffed mushroom and didn’t hate it. Unfortunately it wasn’t stuffed with LSD.
It also helps one of the other judges also didn’t know what he was getting into, so we’re having fun with it. He owns a record studio in town. His son is here and is my age.
There’s a band from Des Moines on right now, , playing all southern rock covers. Who plays covers at a Battle of the Bands?
The third judge is the guy behind the whole shindig –referred to henceforth as “film dude” — and when asked if he likes Douglas Acres replied, “I’m not a big southern rock guy, but they’re fun and different.” I wrote down his actual quote because it was so hilarious.. fun AND different. What a combination.
Film dude just asked the record studio dude’s son (a drummer) what he thinks of the band’s drummer (utterly unimpressive), but the son respectfully says, “He’s not doing anything — just playing.” The promotor guy goes, “Time to step in, mister!” Wow. What a place to be and conversation to be having on a Saturday night.
Because of the 3 guitar plus bass lineup, I really thought a Skynyrd cover was in the cards, but they’re at next to last song and it’s…Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.” We’re laughing out loud up here. The 30 people who drove up from Des Moines are going crazy.
I gave them a pity 4/10 for overall performance and 6/10 for their song for the film. Although it lacked a hook, at least it had “Full Throttle” in the lyrics.
Comedian emcee is back and time for a pee break.
I forgot to mention each band gets an hour-long set, with the last song as the entry to be in the Full Throttle racing film. That’s four hours of music, which should clock in around 1:15-45 a.m. if they stay on track. We didn’t know that when we signed up.
It’s not the smartest move from an event-planning perspective because the majority of the crowd here — particularly the numerous gray hairs — will not make it that long. In fact, film dude (also gray haired) told me he hasn’t stayed up that late since college.
Onto the next band…
are an actual band — as opposed to a glorified cover act — and they’re good, as well.
I’ve seen them numerous times and highly respect them.
I listened to the first song. A familiar tracked called something like “The Good Life” (sorry for not remembering, guys), and then went outside to call my wife and check in on my sick kid.
Turns out I’m officially old.
I came back to the VIP table and only the studio dude’s son is left. We chatted for a bit about the ridiculousness of the situation, and then he left. I’m alone.
The free jack and cokes are kicking in, and I’m so glad The Alarmists are a quality band. I’m thrilled to recognize the majority of their songs. They are rock solid tonight and have salvaged the evening. I know I’ve seen them, but don’t remember where or when.
When I saw Wolfmother here at the Fine Line, the urinal troughs had ice in them. I remember that.
Film dude comes back and tells me he’s been outside trying to convince the party buses to pay $12 covers to come inside and watch this. Outside the red carpet photog area has a motorcycle and scantily dressed chick you can get your picture with. Tell me who does that?
Alarmists got a 8/10 for performance and 7/10 for their song, even though they forgot to introduce it.
At this point I asked film dude where he got these bands. He told us he got about 25 submissions but most of them sucked. Who didn’t make the cut? He said the first submission was a lesbian goth band. I wish they were playing, honestly. I bemusedly told him that.
But luckily L.A.’s just took the stage; they are super heavy prog metal, and the old folk’s mouths are gaping.
But I quickly ascertain these guys are a young, average prog rock band. I don’t think they’ve played a lot of gigs before, and they apparently came all the way to Minneapolis just to compete. At one point the band left the stage and the lead singer did a 5 minute drum solo while the crowd forgot to listen.
Their submission for the film lacked a hook. They got a 7/10 and a 8/10.
The comedian emcee is now talking about naked bike racing, and I’m surprised how much I’m laughing. Basically, a bunch of naked guys in a naked bike race is cool and fun to watch. But the losing guy in that race is just a creepy naked bike racer all by himself. Somehow I could relate to that.
The were the fifth in the lineup. With all due respect to The Alarmists, it was immediately apparent this was the only band who mattered tonight. The Minneapolis-based quartet showed up and immediately took control of the crowd. Plus they had a smoke machine.
It’s 12:50, the band is 2/3 done with their set, and I just heard film dude tell someone they need to drag this on as long as possible.
“At least until 1:30 or 1:45,” he said, although a caught him yawning a few minutes ago.
I’m trying to figure out if I can cast my ballot and ditch.
Although I’ve made a conscientious effort to leave my plush VIP area to go down and see each band up close tonight, The Melismatics are the only band I’ve felt compelled to go stand in the front row and enjoy (multiple times). The Fine Line’s crowd has packed the front of the house, is clapping and jumping, and oh yeah, having a good time. Gee, it’s almost like a real concert or something.
So as far as judging criteria for the song for the movie, I’ve been given no direction. I’ve seen the film trailer twice, and it appears to have stock chung-chunga-chung racing music.
Douglas Acres wrote a southern rock song that featured the words “Full Throttle” in the lyrics. The Alarmists forgot to announce their submission for the contest, and I swear the last song they played was off their new album (which wouldn’t qualify). Bren have that metal sound that could translate well to a racing movie, but their song submission focused too much on their prog-lead singer and forgot a hook. Based on his solo on the drummer’s kit, record studio dude and I agreed Bren’s lead singer should be drumming, and they should find another singer altogether. Or maybe he should join Douglas Acres.
The Melismatic’s submission was called “New Infection.” A driving bass line and rhythm below a bouncy hook and catchy chorus — with just enough messy improvisation — made this my pick of the evening. 10/10s x 2.
They won. Hooray.
I hope I can still get my car out of valet.
More photos here.