Monday, March 16, 2009

Milam's March Madness

There are five certainties in life:
1) Taxes (does not apply to me).
2) I reference my "list" of rock's greatest bands without ever compiling the list.
3) Death (does not apply to Keith Richards).
4) I complain about March and its horrors.
5) Steve Martin will always look 55 years old.

Today, in honor of March Madness and all things good and deductive, we cross #2 and #4 off the list. Today, we slay two blogbirds with one blogstone. Today, we undertake an unprecedented...undertaking. Today, I list the 65 best bands on the planet, bracketize them according to region, seed them by level of awesomeness and repute, and begin a March-Madness-inspired tournament to eliminate them one-by-one, until we're left with one winner and champion, the Greatest Band on Earth!

Everyone, welcome to Milam's March Madness!

How does it work, you ask? A few ground rules:

1) The goal here is to determine the best band on the planet. We're dealing only with bands that can fall loosely under the "rock" umbrella. In other words, no backing bands for solo artists (individual pop singers like Beck, etc.). No singer/songwriters (Dylan, Springsteen, etc.). No country (Rascal Flatts, etc.). No hip hop artists (if this encompassed all genres, I'd just give the trophy twice to Outkast and call it a day).

2) We're also excluding bands that are defunct, in a nursing home, or on-hiatus-until-their-kids-go-to-college. No reunion-tour-gloryhogs here (Rolling Stones, The Who, etc.).

3) I have a friend who believes the Best Band on Earth is probably someone nobody's ever heard before. I disagree. I think popularity often implies relevance, and you have to aim high to really achieve something (i.e., if a band plays in a forest and nobody's there to hear it, it doesn't make a sound). The best bands are great artists and massively popular, but some trend toward one extreme. You'll see everything on this list--vacuous poppers next to obtuse arthouse wonders. The ultimate rubric is, "overall, who's doing the most?" Who's striking the best balance between pop appeal and great artistry?

4) Finally, this ranking is current. If a band's technically still together, but hasn't made a dent in a while, they're probably not listed (e.g., Jimmy Eat World). Likewise, bands are judged off their entire body of work, but recent releases will be weighted more.

5) If I'm leaving out your favorite band, or you'd like to place a vote for a matchup, just comment and state your case! Discussion's the whole point.

6) Once we get to the later rounds, I'll have a poll available for each matchup, so we can keep closer tabs on who y'all think should win.

7) Like in March Madness, the field of 65 is broken into four regions of 16. Each band is more likely to play in its home region, but there are several exceptions. One play-in game exists to give two bands-on-the-bubble a chance to play for the last open slot. So, 65 becomes 64.

8) The South region winner will play the East region winner in the Final Four. The West and International will play on the other side.

Today I'm listing the entire field, and I'll be posting the 1st and 2nd round results every day this week.


East Region

1) U2
16) The Walkmen

8) The Shins
9) Sigur Ros

5) Queens of the Stone Age
12) Dashboard Confessional

13) Fountains of Wayne
4) Sonic Youth

6) Goo Goo Dolls
11) New Pornographers

3) The Killers
14) Plain White T's

10) Metallica

15) My Chemical Romance
2) My Morning Jacket

Washington, D.C. - The 9:30 Club
1, 16, 8, & 9
NYC - Bowery Ballroom
5, 12, 13, & 4
Boston - The Middle East
6, 11, 13 & 14
Chicago - Metro
7, 10, 15 & 12
NYC - Radio City Music Hall
Regional Finals

--A gritty and aging Goo was hoping for their hometown crowd in New York. Tough matchup for them on the road.
--U2 needs to remain focused in D.C. Putting Bono that close to politicians could be distracting.
--I'm personally looking forward to Sonic Youth vs. Fountains of Wayne the most. A clash of two polar opposites.
--The 2 vs. 15 matchup (The Battle of the Possessive Pronouns) could be a hot ticket.

South Region

1) Pearl Jam
16) Iron & Wine

8) Lucero
9) The Hold Steady

5) Wilco
12) Drive-By Truckers

13) Panic! At the Disco
4) Kings of Leon

6) Black Crowes
11) The Decemberists

3) Red Hot Chili Peppers
14) Paramore

7) The Black Keys
10) North Mississippi All-Stars

15) 3 Doors Down
2) REM

Memphis - Minglewood Hall
1, 16, 8, & 9
Nashville - Mercy Lounge
5, 12, 13, & 4
Atlanta - Variety Playhouse
6, 11, 13 & 14
New Orleans - House of Blues
7, 10, 15 & 12
Memphis - The Orpheum
Regional Finals

--Lucero vs. The Hold Steady in Memphis is probably the best first-round matchup on the board. Rock fans win, livers lose.
--I only know one thing about the Panic! At the Disco vs. KOL matchup: it will feature the world's biggest collection of skinny jeans. Book it.
--The Chili Peppers were hoping for the New Orleans draw, so Keidis could finally sing about Louisiana in Louisiana. Surely he'll have a funky rap about Georgian cliches in time for the battle.
--Could two fanbases look less alike than 3 Doors Down and REM's? Couldn't resist putting them next to each other.

West Region

1) Green Day
16) Play-In-Winner of
Nickelback vs. Explosions in the Sky

8) Augustana
9) The Hives

5) Maroon 5
12) Fall Out Boy

13) The Thrills
4) Counting Crows

6) Jet
11) All-American Rejects

3) Weezer
14) Fleet Foxes

7) Death Cab for Cutie
10) Band of Horses

15) The Fray
2) Foo Fighters

Los Angeles - The Roxy
1, 16, 8, & 9
San Francisco - Bottom of the Hill
5, 12, 13, & 4
Denver - Red Rocks
6, 11, 13 & 14
Seattle - The Showbox
7, 10, 15 & 12
San Francisco - The Fillmore
Regional Finals

--The Play-In game pairs two bands that I couldn't leave out. Nickelback, the height of insipid pop, vs. Explosions in the Sky, an instrumental band from West Texas. One has a singer, one doesn't, neither say anything. I can't wait.
--Which Counting Crows will show up against the Thrills? If they're not sharp, the Thrills could play "Big Sur" nine times and get a huge upset.
--The Denver group (3, 14, 6, and 11) probably has the biggest box-office draw of any foursome in the tournament. Whoever emerges from Red Rocks will make some noise.
--Hipsters everywhere will be in heaven during the Death Cab vs. Band of Horses matchup. Unsurprisingly, they will form a fetal-position-consolation-circle when one band loses.

International Region

1) Radiohead
16) Dr. Dog

8) Vampire Weekend
9) Belle & Sebastian

5) Oasis
12) The Raconteurs

13) Mars Volta
4) The Strokes

6) Franz Ferdinand
11) TV on the Radio

3) Coldplay
14) Kaiser Chiefs

7) Arcade Fire
10) Against Me!

15) Keane
2) The White Stripes

London - Brixton Academy
1, 16, 8, & 9
Amsterdam - Paradiso
5, 12, 13, & 4
Edinburgh - Queen's Hall
6, 11, 13 & 14
Manchester - Uni
7, 10, 15 & 12
London - Royal Albert Hall
Regional Finals

--Since every single review of Vampire Weekend compared VW to Belle & Sebastian, you know B&S will be out for blood. And by blood, I mean, "a conversation about Proust over a snifter of brandy."
--Couldn't resist the urge to put the Gallagher's in Amsterdam.
--Huge hometown draw for Scotland's own Franz Ferdinand, but TV on the Radio will be a tough out. That noise you hear? Arthouse goons drooling.
--On the off-chance Keane matches up with Against Me!, they'll trump 3Doors/REM for "weirdest fanbase pairing."


What are your thoughts? Which battle would you most like to see? Who's your favorite to win? What's your projected Final Four?

Round 1 starts tomorrow...


Lady M said...

looks like Jack White's going to be busy.

Michael said...

Ha! This is hilarious

steve martin said...

Which Steve Martin?

MC Poetry said...

I made a spreadsheet:

Wilco takes it all.

Chris Milam said...

Spreadsheets--UNREAL! This is awesome...great picks, too.

If anyone wants to fill out their own bracket, MC Poetry's got a great spreadsheet set up already...just follow that link and sub out your picks.

Justin said...


My final matchup is the same as MCP's, but I'm going to have to pick Radiohead on this one, folks.

(I saw Wilco in 2006 and Radiohead in 2008 and it's very, very, very difficult for me to decide which live performance was more mindblowing.)

Lady M said...

sitting kitty corner (that's how we say it in the North) 10-15 feet behind the stage at Uptown Mix watching Glenn Kotche play drums and xylophone seeing that it's easy to see why she fell in love with a drummer.

Chris Milam said...

Wilco as the runaway crowd favorite? Color me surprised, and intrigued.

Wilco's first round matchup is tomorrow...all they gotta do is plant gallons Jack backstage and the Truckers will be toast.

Michael said...

Here's my bracket. Gotta say, I think its gonna be Pearl Jam. Some surprise performances in mine though, with weezer and mmj going further than expected.

Also ... the coldplay - radiohead matchup will be a blowout.

Michael said...

i just realized mmj and weezer are a 2 and 3 seed respectively ... so I guess saying "surprise performances" isn't really appropriate.

TownCharacter said...

What fun. This took a lot of thought and effort into this -- I'm quite impressed. But I'm easily impressed.

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