Geekus Musicus Maximus? Not me!

By Niki D'Andrea

I was gonna kick sooo much ass at Rhino Records' Geekus Musicus Maximus challenge today at the Austin Convention Center. The 305-question music trivia test (dubbed the RMAT, for Rhino Musical Aptitude Test) wasn't supposed to lead me to this rattling revelation: I don't know nearly as much about music as I've always thought.

I had motives beyond reinforcing my ego for taking this test. The winner (the person with the most correct answers) at the ACC would win 100 CDs from Rhino. The overall winner from both test sessions (the test was also administered online at 6 p.m. PST) wins a copy of every new release (CDs and DVDs) from Rhino for the rest of his or her life.

And the test was hosted by Roky Erickson, whose old band, the 13th Floor Elevators, are among my top three all-time favorite garage bands. Plus, it was free to take the test, so I figured I'd just go in, flex my mental muscles, and walk out feeling triumphant.

I'm sure that the other 80 or so people taking the test felt the same way.

We had an hour to take the test. And it was a monster. At least a dozen people gave up and left before the 30-minute mark. I managed to hang in there until 15 minutes remained, but I ultimately left at least 50 of the 305 questions unanswered.

The test was a real mutha. There were several sections: 2007, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Show Business, Rhino Records, Country, Metal, Punk, and miscellaneous. And the questions weren't easy, by any means.

Here are some examples (and these are questions I actually knew the answer to):

For what band was Laura Logic the saxophone player? (Answer: X-Ray Spex, a U.K. punk band that folded in 1977, after making one record).

Who coined the phrase "Back to Mono"? (Answer: Phil Spector)

Multiple choice: Which famous actress does not appear on the cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band? A) Shirley Temple B) Mae West C) Marilyn Monroe D) Marlene Dietrich E) Judy Garland (Answer: E, Judy Garland)

The majority of the questions were tougher than that; I don't think even Matt Pinfield and Lester Bangs put together could've aced the test.

By the time I walked out of there, I felt, um, humbled -- to say the least. The only thing I won was the knowledge that I don't have as much knowledge as I'd always thought.

And since this is an "annual" contest here at SxSW, I'm gonna keep an eye out to see who wins. Obviously, I'll need a study partner for next year.

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