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Now Thrust is concentrating on creating its own opportunities. On Saturday, March 2, the group holds a release party for its new CD, Parade of Idiots (the album on which "Smack" appears), at the Uptown Theater. The goal, Scott says, is to "set up something that looks bigger than what we really are, something that will bring people out to find out what we're all about and what [openers] Bent and the Sound and the Fury are all about." There's a high price to pay for this grand illusion. Scott estimates the band will have to sell more than 1,000 tickets to break even; as of a week before showtime, it had moved approximately 600. Budweiser, perhaps intoxicated by Thrust's tune "One for the Bottle," has chipped in with a few posters and the official-looking "Budweiser presents" endorsement on the event's tickets. The Rock is also a big part of the promotional push, although it should be noted that this isn't charitable assistance -- Thrust pays the station handsomely for ad time.
Thrust also has adopted the up-and-coming musician's version of door-to-door salesmanship, passing fliers to fans outside major shows such as last week's System of a Down concert at the Uptown. (And anyone who watched that crowd knows that this was an appropriate setting for stirring up interest in something called Parade of Idiots.) Finally, Thrust printed 5,000 three-song discs ("Scrape" is included), which it plans to distribute across the metro area as a free sampler.
Contributing further to the buzz about this show is the fact that Bent is on the bill. The groups are reputed to be bitter rivals, with hard feelings simmering after close clashes in the aforementioned Battles of the Bands. After Thrust's most recent triumph, Bent fans cried foul, and some of them still maintain that the club's judges were as fragile and misguided as French figure-skating judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne. But as their collaboration on this double-headed affair implies, the beef between Thrust and Bent, if there ever really was any, has long since been squashed. "There's no animosity at all," says Scott, who voluntarily vouches for the quality of Bent's new disc.
But while its tunes might have inspired unlikely converts, Bent should have a much harder time winning airplay for its heavier, largely melody-free material. For that matter, other local hopefuls might do well not to read too much into Thrust's surprising breakthrough.
"I don't want to kid anybody," Mirsky says. "My job as program director isn't to break bands or to get bands signed. My job, first and foremost, is to get ratings and program the music that's going to gain us the most listeners. If local bands come up with music that's on par with a lot of the national stuff, I'd jump at the opportunity to support them, but that's not our primary purpose. Our purpose is to entertain, not to educate. If a local band makes great music and people get into it, then I'm serving both masters."
For now, Thrust continues to represent local rock nightly in a clash against mediocre MTV metal, a battle with no small symbolic value. Ironically, if Thrust rules the Rumble for two consecutive weeks, 98.9 will retire "Smack," making possible permanent removal from the airwaves the terrible reward for the song's winning ways. However, the song's success could also earn it a spot in regular rotation, a possibility Mirsky doesn't debunk. If nothing else, Thrust's story provides instruction to groups in the area's mostly densely populated musical genre: If local radio programmers won't play your songs, give 'em a "Smack."