It’s the time of year again when finely tuned athletic collegiates are tossed into the coliseum, gazed upon by the watchful eyes of millions of american gamblers, and exploited more millions of dollars (which they will never see as it goes into the kitty of their respective institutions) while the likes of Emperor Vitale and his court, Jay Bilas, Bob Knight, Digger Phelps, and Doug Gotlieb, delight audiences with a thumbs up or down, deciding these young men’s fates in various television specials before a single shot is hoisted…Sounds like fun huh?
Well, despite the reality of it all, it is a lot of fun, the Cinderellas knocking off giants, the buzzer beaters, players who, for some “unknown” reason, will never have a shot at he NBA, carrying their university’s name sake deep into a field of predators they were assumed to have no business matching up with.
Here’s the idea: Readers of SIMGE have been exposed to some great local music these past few months and, with great deliberation, I’ve narrowed down a field of 32 of the best acts to currently, or formerly (since they now travel the world in some sort of motorized vehicle), and am leaving it in your capable hands to vote for your favorites in a bracket style, single round elimination, tournament.
NOTE: Brackets not built strictly on geographic location.
First Round (March 15-17)
The Legends Bracket:
(1) Bruce Springsteen 163 d. (8) John Eddie 16
John Eddie was no match for Bruce. Although both call the boardwalk home, there can only be one Boss in charge of this empire, and the people have spoken.
(2) Bouncing Souls 118 d. Thursday 31
Over the years, Thursday has shifted away from its Punk-Rock roots for a more emotional brand of music, opposed to The Souls who have embraced the basements they started playing more than two decades ago. The second seeded Souls’ victory was never in question.
(6) Southside Johnny 176 d. (3) Bon Jovi 167
Southside Johnny pulled off the most exciting upset in the first round of competition. Not only did a six seed take down a three, but that third ranked act just happens to be fronted by a cowboy riding a steel horse.
Bon Jovi got out to a fast start running up the score with the classic “Livin’ On a Prayer,” and the gaudy “It’s My Life,” but lost ground when Southside and The Jukes busted out the Boardwalk classic “I Don’t Want To Go Home.”
The hair-Metal rockers lost more ground when Bruce Springsteen joined Southside and company on stage for a couple of songs, the emotional “Hearts Of Stone” and the undeniably danceable “Talk To Me,” however when Southide and the gang performed “Havin’ A Party” the house came down.
Bon Jovi tried to answer with “Wanted Dead Or Alive” but the audience has become desensitized to the number ever since it was included within the X-Box 360 game Rock Band.
Southside Johnny, with the help of The Jukes and his good friend Bruce Springsteen, have toppled the mighty Bon Jovi. Interestingly enough, like Spock and Kirk, Springsteen and Southside will go head-to-head in the second round of action.
(4) Streetlight Manifesto 102 d. (5) Ted Leo 42
“Ted Leo versus Streetlight?” Drew Kaufman, an onlooking spectator, pondered on Facebook “That’s like making me choose which one of my kids I want to live.”
Many voters shared Kaufman’s sentiment as its incredibly difficult to choose between one Garden State Ska-Punk god and the other. However, as Streetlight was the higher seed, the collective chose Starland Ballroom as the grounds for this match, and support for Tomas Kalnoky and company came out in droves, burying Ted Leo by a large margin.
Streetlight left no doubt when it closed the show with a virtual sing along of the band’s classic track “Big Sleep.”
Another interesting second round matchup will occur when the new guard of Jersey Punk-Rock, Streetlight, takes on the elder statesmen of the scene, the Bouncing Souls.
Beyond NJ Bracket:
(1) The Gaslight Anthem 112 d. (8) Screaming Females 36
Maybe when Screaming Females share a stage with Springsteen the scales will tip in its favor, but until then, Marissa Paternoster and the guys will just have to earn votes the old fashioned way, by continuing to melt people’s faces on back breaking international tours.
(2) My Chemical Romance 115 d. (7) Titus Andronicus 57
It’s hard enough to topple an Black Parade by itself, but when those ranks are bolstered with crotch rocket riding, sharp shooting, leather clad, killjoys, it’s impossible to defeat a force of that magnitude without some sort of atomic weapon.
Sadly, all Titus Andronicus had were some Civil War era muskets locked and loaded with a style of Indie-Punk that is captivating, yet less mainstream than MCR’s radio hits “Dead,” “Famous Last Words,” and the track that started it all, “I’m Not Okay.”
It was a valiant effort from Titus Andronicus, but the dark forces were too much to overcome.
(6) River City Extension 176 d. (3) The Gay Blades 54
This was an intriguing first round match up as both of these groups are two of the bigger names currently representing New Jersey down in Austin, Texas at the SXSW Festival.
River City Extension’s lead in this contest was never in question…a very convincing victory indeed.
(4) April Smith & Co. 142 d. (5) Nicole Atkins 97
A recent spot on Conan and the release of a new album, Mondo Amore, could not lift Nicole Atkins, who many consider to be the next big act to come out of Asbury Park, over April Smith & The Great Picture Show, a speakeasy songstress and her prohibition era-style bandmates who’s song “Terrible Things” was featured as the theme to the hit HBO show Weeds.
In this battle of sirens, April Smith moves on.
(1) Almost There 457 d. (8) End Of An Era 47
End Of An Era, finalists in the Metromix Breakthru competition, got the crowd slam dancing with tracks off its recently released self-titled full-length like “The Walking Dead” but eventually proved to be no match for Almost There at The Brighton Bar.
The Pop-Punk three-piece fired into the audience with tracks “I Cried Wolf,” and “Grbage Dump Or A Gold Mine” off its latest EP Silver Lake, while reaching all the way back to its debut release, Audio Takeover, for head bangers like “Gone” and “Breaking Point.”
(2) No Wine For Kittens 125 d. (7) Atlantic, Atlantic 48
But, when No Wine For Kittens’ front-man Rick Barry had the lights turned down, and his spotlight brought up for a solo-rendition of “Annie, In Stereo,” the audiences hearts melted, and this match was literally all over but the crying.
(6) Tara Elliott & Co. 267 d. (3) Quincy Mumford 58
Mumford’s jumped out of the gates fast with grooving number “Lifted,” but the soothing tune was eventually subdued by the ragers dealt out by The Red Velvets.
After “Teenage Secret,” “Ride,” and “Love Just Ain’t Enough,” the speakers were melted, and no more music could be played crowning Elliott and company as the victors.
(4) Outside The Box 852 d. (5) Lost In Society 329
Outside The Box posted the highest first round score and after the band’s victory was well in hand, a post on the group’s Facebook page read, “Wouldn’t it be funny if we faced off against Bruce in the finals?” referencing how the outfit has shared the stage with The Boss in the past. With a first round performance of that magnitude, it’s a distinct possibility that the championship could come down to those two acts.
And don’t feel too bad for Lost In Society. The Punk-Rockers did just take home the Metromix Breakthru grand prize. If they had to win a title, I think we all know which one the band is better off with…keep your head’s up fellas.
Hub City Bracket:
(1) Green Paper 83 d. (8) Tango Machina 73
As Green Paper was the higher seed, the Psychedelic four-piece subdued The Pie Hole patrons with Pop-Rock numbers from the band’s debut full-length Fire and trippy tracks from the band’s eventual release Water.
By the time Green Paper’s set was finished, the audience was too week in the knees to stand and more or less frightened by the Rock N’ Roll of Tango, due to the narcotic induced hallucinations the music brought on.
“That chair turned into thousands of snakes!!!” exclaimed one man before racing out of the room.
(2) The Sixty Six 131 d. (7) Only Living Boy 25
The Sixty Six can go Folky or Grungy and with the edition of guitar maestro Erik Rudic, formerly of The New Volume, the Rock outfit is a force in New Jersey Music.
If the show was held at The Crocodile in Seattle in the early ’90s, rather than Asbury Lanes, Only Living Boy may have been better received. But The Sixty Six owned the alley on this night.
(3) The Dead & Gone 200 d. (6) Matt Huston 94
The Dead & Gone are Punkabilly at its best and as the higher seeded act, chose The Court Tavern basement as the site of this show. Pits opened up when the three-piece ripped into “B.S.O.L.” and “When The Zombies Come, We Run To Crumb (Don’t Walk).”
Singer-Songwriter Matt Huston put up a hell of an effort, but was undoubtedly out of his element as ceiling tiles fell down around him during the performance of “In Disguise.” He handled it well enough and even managed to win over a majority of Punks and skins in attendance…an impressive feat in itself.
(5) The Obvious 62 d. (4) Black Wine 24
Asbury’s The Obvious traveled to McCormick’s Pub in New Brunswick for this showdown with Black Wine, the Jersey Punk supergroup composed of Jeff Schroek (The Ergs), J. Nelson (Hunchback), and Miranda Taylor (Full Of Fancy), and pulled out the upset victory.
Angie Sugrim and company got the crowd moving with “Don’t Match” and “Doctor Doctor” and won it over with “KO? OK!.”