Let's dive right into Milam's March Madness--Round 1!
***Note the iMeem Player to the right. Every day it will have a playlist of the bands competing. Today it features all the bands from the East and South region.
1) U2 vs. 16) The Walkmen
Battle: Walkmen singer steals a scene--and some Bono mojo--by resurrecting Ed Vedder's "Paul Is Dead" t-shirt. Then, U2 plays for fourteen hours straight, beating the Walkmen--and the audience--into submission.
8) The Shins vs. 9) Sigur Ros
Battle: An off-kilter audience doesn't know what to do, as the Shins out-bland themselves and Sigur Ros out-weirds themselves. "Do we even need to be here," the crowd asks. "Not really," is the collective answer. Absent something, uh, enjoyable, they decide SR's weirdness is more convincingly "smart" than the Shins' apathy.
Winner: Sigur Ros
5) Queens of the Stone Age vs. 12) Dashboard Confessional
Battle: QOTSA singer Josh Homme amps up the pre-show hype, publicly calling Chris Carrabba "a girl." Carrabba never leaves Florida and files a suit for defamation of character.
Winner: Queens of the Stone Age, by forfeit.
4) Sonic Youth vs. 13) Fountains of Wayne
Battle: Sonic Youth follows the tight pop set with what can only be described as "a vicious aural assault," leaving the audience to question life, happiness, and...the questions themselves. "For a bunch of old guys, they blew my mind," says one audience member. "It's totally cool, we get it," says an un-phased Wayne member.
Winner: Sonic Youth
6) Goo Goo Dolls vs. 11) New Pornographers
Battle: Johnny Goo wakes up late from a nap, and arrives at the venue just in time to hear the last three Pornographers songs. He is alarmed to find out that they, too, are an accessible pop band. He proceeds to hustle and work the stage like only the Goo can, but when he can't hit a high note--any, ever--the crowd winces with embarrassment. Boston needs a little "smaht" with their pop anyway, and the college crowd gives NP the upset.
Winner: New Pornographers
3) The Killers vs. 14) Plain White T's
Battle: Plain White T's get a warm response when they close with "Hey There Delilah." The Killers then open their set with "All These Things That I've Done" and the crowd comments, "Wait, who played earlier? Seriously, I'm blanking here...was it the Jimmy Eat Guys? Who was it again? Don't tell me..."
Winner: The Killers
7) MGMT vs. 10) Metallica
Battle: Metallica--despite being the lower seed--insists on playing after MGMT. MGMT responds by passing out burned copies of Metallica's latest CD to the crowd in a brilliant marketing maneuver. By the time they play "4th Dimensional Transition," Lars Ulrich is heard offstage grumbling, "crap, this is scarier than anything we do."
2) My Morning Jacket vs. 15) My Chemical Romance
Battle: My Chemical Romance gives a feast for the eyes, with elaborate sets, histrionics, pyrotechnics, and even holograms. My Morning Jacket comes out and plays their instruments.
Winner: My Morning Jacket
Round 2 Matchups (ON THURSDAY):
9) Sigur Ros
5) Queens of the Stone Age
4) Sonic Youth
11) The New Pornographers
3) The Killers
2) My Morning Jacket
--Bono will stand face-to-face with his artistic ambitions against Sigur Ros. How will it play out? Will he spend the first 15 minutes apologizing for playing pop songs? Will he ask Sigur Ros if he can join the band?
--There isn't a room big enough to house the cred of the Queens vs. Sonic Youth matchup. The coolness in the room that night will shatter records.
--The Killers and NP are both good rock bands that guys can like but girls freaking love. The male-female ratio for showtime will probably make the difference.
--I would pay $450 to see the MGMT vs. Jacket faceoff. I'd throw in an extra $50 if someone brings a keytar.
1) Pearl Jam vs. 16) Iron & Wine
Battle: In a display of Vedderian camaraderie, Eddie insists on singing with Iron & Wine while drinking wine. This wins the crowd, who vote for Eddie rather than Iron & Wine while the rest of Pearl Jam walks their dogs.
Winner: Pearl Jam
8) Lucero vs. 9) The Hold Steady
Battle: Manhugs abound as The Hold Steady and Lucero buy each other shots, sing each others' songs, and share each others' fans. Both play great, raucous sets, and mumble late in the night, "Whatever man, ish all...wait, I'm shaying shomething...sheers to you." The crowd, now shirtless for reasons unknown, votes for Lucero ultimately "because Ben tells them to."
5) Wilco vs. 12) Drive-By Truckers
Battle: In the age-old battle of Intellectualized Americana vs. Redneck Rockery, the audience doesn't know whether to turn to Faulkner or Foxworthy. Oddly, both bands play both roles, Wilco all "extended metaphor," the Truckers all "deep couplets." Bad luck for the DBT, though. It's a Nashville crowd.
4) Kings of Leon vs. 13) Panic! At the Disco
Battle: KOL expect to coast with a hometown crowd, better songs, and better performances, but Panic! is all heart and weird punctuation. They will not go away. Ultimately, KOL sweats out a win, because they sweat through their baby tees. "OMFG!" remark conscientious fans.
Winner: Kings of Leon
6) Black Crowes vs. 11) The Decemberists
Battle: The crowd, the Crowes, and the Decemberists all expect an upset, until they actually hear the Decemberists and collectively say, "eh." The Crowes bicker between songs, but it doesn't matter. Somebody had to back into Round 2 here.
Winner: Black Crowes
3) Red Hot Chili Peppers vs. 14) Paramore
Battle: "Black bandana/oh Suzannah//in Louisiana/meant to say Atlanta/Brian Fantana/likes Bananarama..."
Winner: Red Hot Chili Peppers
7) Black Keys vs. 10) North Mississippi All-Stars
Battle: The All-Stars remind a blues-friendly crowd what they do, as if to say, "ehem, we're one of the best live bands on the planet." "Yes," say the Keys, "but do you have...flute?" In a close, impressive, bluesy battle, the crowd leaves happy, sad, and wanting desperately to have sex with each other.
Winner: Black Keys
2) REM vs. 15) 3 Doors Down
Battle: Stipe starts the set with a monologue about how great 3 Doors Down is. Half the audience cheers, half laughs snarkily. "I'm serious," he implores, "they're great...what joy..." He continues for half an hour in earnest as the entire venue assumes it's a piece of performance art. "Michael," they seem to say in unison, "you've done it again!"
Round 2 Matchups (ON FRIDAY):
1) Pearl Jam
4) Kings of Leon
6) Black Crowes
3) Red Hot Chili Peppers
7) Black Keys
--All the top seeds advance. How did the selection committee know?
--Lucero, with a hometown crowd and a touch of sobriety, could give Pearl Jam all they can handle. Miracles do happen.
--I shudder to think of what Wilco's greenroom conversation with KOL would be, and how it could affect future KOL records and music videos. Of course, Jeff Tweedy could show up wearing skinny jeans. Miracles do happen.
--With "big box office draws who peaked as artists years ago," the question becomes who still matters the most? The Crowes and RHCP have a stable of hits, have their live show down pat, etc. Whoever looks more relevant will win in Atlanta.
--REM has a habit of making solid bands look like complete amateurs. Three years ago, their matchup with the Keys would've been a massacre. But after Attack and Release, I'm not so sure the Keys aren't ready for an upset.
The West and International Regions are up tomorrow!