As many of you are aware, since about 2006 I have annually spent the week prior to SXSW music festival perusing the music listings in order to compile my review of the year's band names and award a "Best Band Name" award to the most deserving aspiring rock stars. I know you join me in feeling that the years blend together in a blurry sort of montage. When I first started writing about SXSW, I was charmed by it. It was a very accessible event for me and a neighborhood wonder... I could amble about Bouldin Creek and South Congress and pluck beers and barbecue ribs at will as if from the sky... I could dance two-step in the dust to rockabilly bands... it was a special time. And I know that somewhere, somehow, there is still a way to do SXSW that would feel easy and right, but I seem to have lost the will to find it. It's just that SX has long since jumped the shark. You know the phrase, I assume? A little 7 or 8-year-old David Ansel was watching sitcoms on his black and white TV one night... I remember this, I remember when Fonzie prepared to "jump the shark" and I remember the feeling of frustration of my first "cliff-hanger ending." I'm tickled that "jump the shark" became a useful English language idiomatic expression. However, sadly, "jump the shark" is by no means an adequate descriptor of SXSW any longer. If, instead, the shark that Fonzie had jumped had its own spinoff sitcom, and that shark had his/her own cliffhanger ending where it jumped, oh, another shark or even a large marine mammal, that would be the level of shark-jumping that we are now seeing with SXSW.
Which brings us to this year's Band Name Revue. I have to admit... the crop this year... not as fertile ground as usual. When previous years yielded such gems as Crapulence and I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness and Phil & The Osophers and perhaps, the all-time champion Hipsterectomy, I found myself at a bit of a loss to find a clear standout winner this year. This year saw an all-time high of 39 "bands" listed as "DJ something", a trend that bodes ill for the level of musicianship at the festival. In related news, there were also 8 "Lil somethings." A bright light in the hip hop category was Gangsta Boo, who I can't help picturing in my mind's eye as the character from Monster's Inc., but a little edgier.
Curiously, in a year that saw great waning in the "Black" and "Death" and "Kill" categories, there was a strong trend this year towards mental health-related names. It is a clear turning-inwards, less of an inclination to blame one's own ills on others, and to express anger, to "kill them" with your band name. Rather, it is a time to turn the camera on oneself. We have Agoraphobia and Bipolaroid, and Victim Mentality. We have The Shivery Shakes and Sick Feeling. Of course, there's Elvis Depressedly. And to counter all those bands, we have The Vaccines. Then there are the social ills, with a few related bands such as Close Talker and Not In The Face.
It occurs to me at this late date that I could just make this stuff up and nobody would fact-check me.
In any event, this year saw a curious coincidence of two Ringo Starr-inspired bands, both Gringo Star and Ringo Deathstarr will be in town for your listening pleasure.
As I mentioned, it's been a slow news day in the Band Name competition, so I apologize for the brevity of this Revue. Moving right along to the runner-up... we have the lovely, the talented, Georgio Murderer. And now, for the winner of the 2015 Soup Peddler SXSW Band Name Revue (SPSXSWBNR) Grand Ladle Prize, I present to you... Guantanamo Baywatch! Come on down to the Soup Peddler and claim your prize!