Nomen Omen: The Worst-Named Bands Playing at SxSW This Year

By Niki D’Andrea

A lot of people think things like catchy band names and cool album covers are irrelevant in the Digital Age, when most people download their music and nobody can afford to pay $18.99 for an unheard CD based solely on how cool it looks. (That’s not a good idea, anyway – the last time I did that, it was a Blowtorch Betty CD, and I regretted letting my eyes make decisions for my ears).

But I don’t whole-heartedly agree with the idea that a band’s name isn’t as important as a band’s sound, especially at a massive festival like SxSW, where thousands of unknown artists are clamoring for a break and playing all over the place. I have gone to see bands I’ve never heard of play at SxSW, based on solely on their band names. Last year, I went out of my way to catch this band from India that was cleverly christened Menwhopause, and I didn’t regret it. The music was a great mashup of acoustic rock, heartfelt harmonies, and complex compositions – sorta like Dave Matthews Band, but with a better moniker and fewer sweaty gesticulations from the singer. And I was eternally amused at the crass name one band from Houston took – The JonBenet. I never got a chance to catch one of their shows last year, but they’re slated to perform again this year.

But now they’ve got more competition. Going through the 2008 SxSW performer schedule, I found a whole slew of mostly-obscure bands with outrageous (and sometimes, outright stupid) band names. If you’re going to be in Austin for the festival this year and find yourself with some down time, consider checking out some of these intriguingly-named acts:

Fuck Buttons (Bristol, UK): As one of my co-workers said when she heard the name, “Oh, that’s cute!” Perhaps they should have named themselves Cute Is What We Aim For. Oh wait…another band already did that.

The Fuck Buttons, and friend

Psychedelic Horseshit (Columbus, OH): Whether it’s meant to be an abstract or a literal thing, this name kicks ass. Because while I may hear meandering psychedelic music in my head, I envision Day-Glo dung.

Awesome Cool Dudes (Austin): This name sounds like a euphemism girls use when trying to hook their friends up on blind dates with ugly guys. “Well, he’s not really cute – but he is an awesome cool dude!”

43 Songs About 43 Presidencies (Sacramento): Sounds boring as hell. I hope the band name is just an attempt at being clever, and not wholly conceptual. Because I, for one, have no interest in hearing songs with titles like “Keep on Rockin’ in the New Deal” or “Ode to Grover Cleveland’s Cheek Tumor.”

This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb (Pensacola): Makes me feel like I’m missing some big inside joke.

This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb. But where's the bike?

The Bang Gang Deejays (Australia) and CPC Gangbangs (Montreal, QB): If given the choice, I’ll take a bang gang over a gang bang anytime.

The Yuppie Pricks (Austin): I think I know these guys.

Does Is Offend You, Yeah? (Reading, England): If they were from Canada instead of England, they would be called Does It Offend You, Eh? At least they’re taking advantage of the newest trend in band names – punctuation.

Secret Lives! of the Freemasons (Asheville, NC): This band gets in on the punctuation trend, too, albeit in a grammatically incorrect way. And I’m not sure I’d want to hear what those old married guys in the Freemasons do in their off-time.

Horse + Donkey (Austin): Equals what? Spider pig?

Soiled Mattress & The Springs (NY, NY): I hope that Wet Spot makes an appearance somewhere, and that somebody else has to sleep in it.

Pissed Jeans (Allentown, PA): Probably responsible for Soiled Mattress.

Pissed Jeans: Yeah, they definitely did it.

Fourcolorzack & Pretty Titty (Seattle): Fourcolorzack? Who cares? Show me Pretty Titty!

You, Me, and Everyone We Know (Washington, DC): Well, if I’m in the band with everyone I know, it’s bound to suck.

Fucked Up (Toronto, ON): Works great for on-stage band introductions: “Hello, Cleveland! We’re Fucked Up!”

Holy Fuck (Toronto, ON): Not quite as good as the Unholy Fuck, but much better than Holy Shit.

Ketchup Mania (Tokyo, Japan): Sounds messy but fun. I’ll wear a hot dog hula skirt to this one.

Ketchup Mania: Use a bit of mustard.

Care Bears on Fire (Brooklyn, NY): Please tell me they have costumes and a stage show to accompany the images their name evokes.

My Dad Is Dead (Chapel Hill, NC): Mine is, too. Yet I feel no camaraderie here. If they’d named themselves with another statement – perhaps something like My Foot Is Asleep or I Hate My Credit Card Bills, I could probably relate a bit more.

Turbo Fruits (Nashville, TN): Sounds like a ballistic, high-octane pineapple in the eye. Owee.

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