Hearsay: Wednesday, April 11, 2002
Judge HearSay

HearSay was honored to help judge last Saturday’s Battle of the Bands at TCU, even though compensation was in the form of KFC and some bean burritos. And a nice t-shirt. And, perhaps, the chance to catch the area’s Next Big Band early in its career. Could another Soviet Space — last year’s winner — be among these battling bands? HearSay was a-tingle.

Normally, Bands in Battle are awarded points for originality, talent, and stage presence. But that all runs together after the third or fourth group. HearSay, who has judged many, many, many battles of bands in its career, basically only pays attention to the two ways contestants can lose points: lameness of name and silliness of bass player.

So as not to bury the lede, as real newspaper people say, HearSay will now announce the winner of the judges’ votes: Aggressive Christine. The ska-inflected pop band is fronted by Tiffany Rebstock, who should have taken a lesson on band-naming from Deborah “Blondie” Harry. HearSay awarded Aggressive Christine high points for its oddly appealing tag, its sane and able bassist/backup vocalist, Judah Cade, and its onstage liveliness — but didn’t care much for the music. No Doubt is the obvious comparison, though HearSay also heard Get Up Kids fronted by Cyndi Lauper, only more screechy. Emo for bats, that’s what it was.

Boss Ordinance won the audience/popular vote, even though the band is based in Albuquerque. (Heck of a shuttle-bus system TCU has.) HearSay hasn’t seen a band this zestfully clean-cut since the young Beach Boys. The Boss boys have nice harmonies, too, and an inoffensive frat-rock sound. Though at times they slip into a weird white-boy funk, the overwhelming image is that of a bunch of Eddie Haskells. Frontman Matt Jones even introduced his bandmates as “Mister.” “On bass, Mr. Lance Kelly!”

On the other end of formality, the lead singer of Poetics as Usual introduced his bandmates as “my boy.” “On drums, my boy Daniel,” and so on. HearSay gave this jazz-rap act top marks for originality and bravado, but has a word of advice about improvising on stage: Don’t. A triple-don’t to Olio, with its irrelevant name, sunglasses-adorned bassist (indoors!), and ear-grating vocal distortions. All the don’ts in heaven and hell to Black Sabbath tribute act Virtue. Alone among the judges, HearSay chose to view Virtue’s barely recognizable cover of “Paranoid” as performance art at its finest, and graded the band accordingly.

Wall-of-sound Blue Sidd Honey — whose lineup included HearSay’s pick for coolest bass player, and not just for of his leather wristband — would have been great if all the members had been playing the same song. Rock traditionalist Voigt has grasped the concept that attitude is all that counts; the rest can be overdubbed. When the vocalist curls around the mic stand like Jim Morrison, who cares what he actually says? Not HearSay. Ten thousand points.

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