Downtown Dirt by Manhole: Handicapping August 17th’s Bloodbath


So we’re back here again, and summer’s already half-gone. Or two-thirds, or three-quarters, or some damn thing. The point is that time has passed, events having rushed in upon us like so many stones in the kinghell mad spill of a monster avalanche…

And there is much to report. Including that a goodly portion of early- and mid-summer events hereabouts were devoted to setting up the mid-August dogfight that is the Band Eat Band competition at our very own Preservation Pub.

That Aug. 17 final will consist of seven mean, hungry local bands vying for supremacy, studio time, $3,000 cash, and bragging rights after months of good music, bad drugs, and brutal fighting in the trenches.

It all started back in the halcyon days of 2012, when 40 or so, fresh-faced, naïve young rock outfits entered B.E.B. with exalted visions of stardom, immortality, and filthy lucre.

By the end of July 2013, the endless rounds of ruthless competition had reduced that initial army of spirited newbies to a small platoon of scarred and battle-hardened warhorses, grim, savage men with dead eyes and harrowed souls…

Okay, no. So most of that is a big load of mulch. But we’ve got a story to tell, Jake, and one should never let the truth get in the way. It is rarely a matter of any real consequence.

But really, the tales that came out of B.E.B. have been manifold, and compelling. Such as that of our very own Preservation Pub doorman John Colquitt, who has morphed like Bruce Banner on a Glenn Miller kick into an unlikely 250-lb. trombone rock star, and in the doing has led no less than two bands—the Jojax, and Grandpa’s Stash—into the B.E.B. finals.

Which is no slight to the rest of the members of the units in question, both of which are filled with aces, and both of which redlined their way into championship round with sets so over-the-top they almost hit bottom on the other side.

But there’s something about seeing this burly man-mountain with his fountain of blond tresses; singing; bellowing; wheedling lead trombone; slinging hair; often acting as a de facto frontman, sometimes forcibly commandeering the center of attention with a cetacean charisma that seems to defy all established rock convention.

In B.E.B.’s last and most gripping semi, Colquitt and the Stash stole sure victory from the formidable clutches of Dave Bowers and his King Super. That’s King Super and the Excellents, to be sure, and they’d been on some kind of roll since their inception scarcely two years past, taking top honors in some other, third-rung version of a band competition, like seasoned confidence men dealing on half-wits for spending cash.

And they nearly steamrolled into the finals with yet another win, staking their claim to that hot July semis night with a bravura set featuring a scorching double-axe attack potent enough to annihilate small rodents at 50 paces.

But it ain’t over ‘til it’s over, Jake, and there’s a reason why they play the game, and a whole lot of other @#$-head clichés that usually run straight up my sweet pink ass and die, yet seem somehow apropos in this particular instance. And when the Stash took the stage somewhere close to 1 a.m. that night and played possibly the most blisteringly fabulous and frenetic set of their nearly decade-long career, the Gawds of Rawk would not deny them their just due.

Super acquitted themselves well enough to earn a wildcard into the finals, but this result surely does not sit well with the Excellents’ brain trust. Dave Bowers may seem like a temperate and reasonable fellow, but do not be fooled; he is an evil bastard, and a cunning one. It is no simple accident that his lewdly coiling moustache is that of a classic silent-film scoundrel.

Truth be known, Bowers would just as soon stick a shiv in your floating ribs and carve out your liver as give you the time of day. And rest assured that whatever he has planned for Aug. 17, it will surely be depraved and terrible, and more than worth any price of admission.

And then there is the strange saga of Backup Planet—whom we didn’t know from goat shit this time last year—who stormed their way into the finals with a combustible mix of bell-bottom funk and rock, tinged with contemporary EDM. And the bug-eyed kids in the Crumbsnatchers, who came off like some kind of weirdly exuberant speed freaks while blazing through a set of spastic indie rock that cast a wicked spell on judges and crowd alike.

But there is so much more I have neglected to mention, Jake—the madcap stoner sex caravans of Vagabond Philosophy; Baseball’s incantory raising of elder jazz spirits; the worthy few who came within one thin sour note of making the finals themselves…

Best be here yourself for the Finals on Aug. 17, Jake; it won’t be pretty. There will be blood, and not all of those who enter will walk away. Until we speak again, Godspeed, and stay off my goddam lawn.


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