Song Fight

Last night I saw a truly unique show – one that was more “indie” than any other indierock show that I had attended. The show was a sort of showcase of artists from I didn’t actually visit the site until just hours before the show but I absolutely love the concept.

It basically works like this: Each week, the folks at post some song titles. As an artist who frequents the site, you have exactly 7 days to write a song with that title, record it, and submit your MP3 to the site. Song titles this week include “There Are So Many Possibilities” “Twelve Monkeys” and “Hold this for me” After the songs are due, other visitors to the site get to rate the songs. At the end of the week, winners are announced. Ingenious.

At the show, the more frequent winners of these “Song Fights” came up and played some of their greatest hits. The venue was a little coffee shop, Belladonna. The artists were talented, if a bit nervous at times. The audience, like me, was a little geeky. But its a small web site where you have to be able to record your own MP3.. what geek who could do that wouldn’t be nervous?

When we arrived there was a curly haired white guy on stage in a faded yellow shirt rapping. I wasn’t sure if he was the MC, but I caught some lyrics. I gotta say he was a pretty witty guy. The actual MC later referred to him later as “farmer rap” which described his clothes and style well. He was like an indie rock guy pretending to be a redneck, freestyling.

The rapping farmer left the stage soon after we arrived and another band (note to self: track them down) came up for some quality rocking. The lead singer kept the humor level up and his own band in check, but switching back and forth between eels-style melodies to classic indie folk rocking. After my early forays into listening to local bar bands in San Francisco ended in disappointment, I was reasonably impressed that a local, unsigned band playing their own music didn’t suck. But I guess that’s where SongFight comes in. Even if 100 bands submit their music, at least there is SOME filtering by the masses. And since the crowd was a lot of mid-twenties geeky white guys, it seemed only naturual that I might share some tastes in music with them.

The night kept getting better. During the last band, I had seen a guy in the crowd who looked remarkably like a guy I used to work with. Well sure enough this guy takes the stage and starts playing. While he appeared slightly awkward as he walked around the stage trying to figure out where to plug in his guitar, he was remarkably talented. His name was John Benjamin, leader of the John Benjamin Band. Strangely, the John Benjamin Band appeared to be the band’s namesake plus the members of the previous band (need to fill this in!) In the end it didn’t matter who this guy’s bad was, he was the star of the show. His folk rock and very smart lyrics made for some catchy stuff.

After John Benjamin a tall guy in a white buttondown shirt, bow tie, and thick rimmed glasses took the stage and began screaming into the mike. MC Frontalot does not take his performance lightly. This was one man serious about his nerd.core agenda. Like most quality gangstas, explaining to the world why they should fear him was his primary modus operandi. (though according to MC Frontalot, he is a gangster) With the dancing talents of a 9th grade dungeons and dragons player, and the lyrical creativity of Outkast, MC Frontalot showed us why most of the folks in the coffee shop were there just for him. As his set went on, more and more people started filing into the cafe and Frontalot’s energy kept building. Never letting down his tough-as-nails attitude, Front rhymed the sad story of his electronic interception of a request for help from a certain Nigerian businessman. Appearently he wasn’t able to help the man smuggle millions of dollars out of his country, but he got a good rap out of it.

All in all it was a surprisingly good show. I was really expecting something different but mediocre, but between John Benjamin and MC Frontalot, I got my live music bug itch scratched for the week and discovered some new talent as well.

Now to go download some MP3s…

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