Battle of the Blands

We like competition. Who’s the fastest, the biggest, the strongest, the whateverest. We love the Olympics and I have to admit being a boxing and UFC fan myself.

When it comes to music, competition really makes no sense. I wish I had a dollar for every time I was asked “Who is your favorite guitar player?” or “Who is your favorite band?”. I have favorites, but no single favorite. In my collection you’ll find Aerosmith to Zappa with some John Coltrane and Beethoven thrown in for good measure. I do develop temporary favorite songs or pieces, but these come and go, depending on my mood.

Last week I was in a battle of the bands competition in Redwood City, CA. One of our band members who works at a large company suggested they have such a competition and we all agreed we would do it, get more exposure to the band, a bit more time on stage, etc.

When I showed up, I was amazed at the PA they had set up for the band. My guitar amp was miked through it and they guy running sound was pretty good. We were the third act to play and so it was a bit anxious to sit there and listen to others.

We had agreed to play four tunes, starting with “Rock Me Right”, the Susan Tedeschi cover and ending with our crowd pleaser, “Rock and Roll” by Led Zep. Everybody seemed to like our stuff and we executed fairly well on all the material. I then got my gear out of the way for the next band and threw it in my car. I hung around for a while and listened to some of the other acts.

It was then the absurdity of the competition really hit me. What was the critieria by which we were being judged? The acts included a female singer (who read the words off a page) with piano accompanyment, a skinny kid with a psuedo English accent playing guitar and singing originals, then there was us, then a Death Metal band that played for like a half hour, then a pop band that played 6 songs (we were told to keep it to 4), and a few more pops bands after that. This is apples and oranges being compared, folks. Of course, I wanted to win, and my girlfriend said we were the best (that’s loyalty!) but what were they looking for?

Well, we didn’t win. The six tune pop band won….then I found out what the prize was – playing at a future company picnic on a Thursday afternoon. Not even coupons for a nice dinner somewhere!

In retrospect, I think this was a mistake for us to do. It took the band off course from being gig-ready faster and caused a bit of tension in the band. It’s now behind us and we can start to look towards picking up more songs. We haven’t had practice since, soI don’t know if not winning will affect morale briefly or not.

Time to get back to work and get us booked into a club somewhere, get out there for Company’s Christmas party and of course, New Years Eve.

Keep rockin.


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