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Lollapalooza's Last Band Blah Blah Blah ...

By Sarah Dahnke in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 7, 2007 4:30PM

2007_6_7_schoolofrock.jpgVoting for Lollapalooza's Last Band Standing contest officially began on June 1, and Chicago is already leading the pack. Although the standings are always changing, when we last checked the leader board, four out of the top 10 bands were from our fair city, with Evanston-based Rachel Metter at the top of the list with 1727 votes at press time. The band's profile says it has "gained a fan-base among high school students in the Northern Suburbs of Chicago, following the recent release of their dynamite single, 'Intentions.'" Sadly, Chicago reps 100th place as well, with the ironically titled Elgin-based Rejection Letter coming in at last place with a whopping 127 votes to its name at press time.

At this point, the competition is still anyone's game. Last year, the competition brought in about 850,000 votes and 2,000 band submissions, according to Relix magazine. What pains us, however, is that this popularity contest taps into the general public's American Idol-like tendencies, where diligent high school students with 12 email addresses and a lot of patience can stuff the ballot boxes, throwing ideas of talent and quality out the window. True, one winner is chosen by a "celebrity panel" during the final showdown at the Double Door, but by then, the damage has already been done.

We hate to get all Tim Kinsella about it, but contests like this make us want to call for a moratorium on forming bands. Do we really need the band version of Taylor Hicks? If music was a person, it would collectively slap America across the face for mocking it with multi-round voting competitions.

We understand that there have been Battle of the Bands contests for eons, but the competitors used to be chosen by a panel of producers, musicians, record label folk, etc. before the contest even started. We know how this sounds; we're implying that people in the music industry are better than the general public when it comes time to determine what America will like. And that is not entirely true. We're just fed up with popularity contests, rather than talent, determining what is "good" -- a sentence spoken like a kid who wasn't cool in high school, huh?

In order to try and cure our close mindedness, we're willing to pose a challenge to the naysayers. Go online. Listen to one song from each one of the 100 of the bands listed on the Last Band Standing website. Vote for the one you truly think is the best band. If you have a friend in a band on the list or have recently received a mass email requesting your vote for a specific band, resist the urge to vote for that band simply due to name recognition. Sure we all probably won't vote for the same band, but if we've done our little part to make the contest a fair fight, we think we'll be willing to accept the results.