Don't get me wrong, nothing puts a bummer on your party quite like shallow, unmarked graves in the front lawn and dismembered limbs strewn across the driveway. But some things are just as bad -- mistakenly brushing your teeth with Vagisil, dropping the soap in the shower at Leavenworth, expecting barbecued chicken when you show up uninvited for a 'Cue Clucks Clan party.
But some things are worse.
Club Wars, for instance, is a real bitch.
OK, so the local battle-of-the-bands brouhaha isn't as bad as catching your grandfather in a compromising position with two gallons of Crisco, a Frankie Avalon blow-up doll and 437 copies of Mein Kampf. But it can be just as awkward.
Competitive circle jerks such as Club Wars are often more trouble than they're worth for everyone except the winning band. The format does lure apathetic crowds to local music, is a springboard for up-and-comers, and might convince awful musicians to put down guitars and pick up pipe wrenches. But it also leads to undue hype, bloated expectations and a talent pool brimming with mediocrity. The purpose, impact and credibility of such enterprises are further diluted when a new battle-of-the-bands winner is crowned every other day.
On November 14, the winner of Club Wars IV emerged from the Beaumont Club -- five months after Audio Kombat Arsenal won Club Wars III. The latest version was scaled down, but if forty bands competing for six weeks is restraint, pass me some whiskey, four hookers and a gunny sack full of frozen gerbils, because I'm having a "scaled down" party tonight.
The Beaumont finale began with Alibi, a trio that's been gigging since the Paleolithic Era, as the first of five finalists. Making up the band were Silent Bob, a lost Mario Brother and a long-haired Freddy Krueger, but the threesome hardly let osteoporosis keep them from rocking hard in a 1983 kind of way.
(Flexible) Bullit was next. But more captivating than the band's Metallica-scented sound were the maniacal fans throbbing to it. A stout, tattooed guy in a skull cap jumped up and down like Jimbo the Chimp in the throes of a panic attack. Then a Hobbitlike creature endowed with Slash's hair (but, sadly, no top hat) tossed a leopard-print bra onstage before instigating a one-Frodo mosh pit.
"Are you motherfuckers drinking as much as I am?" the lead singer bellowed.
No, but that's an easy fix.
Bullit did boast the only female in the competition, a guitaress in a black minidress made from the same sleek material used for body bags, Slip 'n Slides and haz-mat suits. I regret not courting more women endowed with similar fashion sense. Romance is always safer with a date who's flame-retardant.
When the set was over, my scorecard read: two hours, two bands, two rum and Cokes and one over par after six holes on Golden Tee.
"Just a reminder," the PA boomed, "José the mechanical bull is free."
A steady line of wobbly fans sauntered up to challenge the Beaumont's totem of interactive taxidermy. I secretly rooted for José to gore somebody. Mate los gringos, José. Mate los gringos!
The next act was called Messed Up, though the Bastard Sons of Fred Durst is a more apt evocation of the band's Puddle of Mudd/Staind/Limp Bizkit ménage. Good energy and decent proficiency, albeit with a sound that began to spiral two years ago.
Headed into the championship, Stillborn was the arguable favorite. Singer Pat Doyle's subtle politicking was slightly unnerving, but the band assuaged some skepticism with a passionate set that included nailing a cover of Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name."
One Degree Difference finished things off, having survived two sudden-death playoffs just to reach the finals. ODD swirled the night's biggest crowd with some relatively refined hard-rawk that put them even with Stillborn as the best of the best ... in this competition.
Fans cast their votes. Judges mulled songs, stage presence and musicianship. The suspense was killing me. I really wanted to make a Taco Bell run.
My top five: (1) José, the mechanical bull; (2) Ron Bacardi; (3) Golden Tee; (4) Stillborn; (5) ODD. But I was rooting for Alibi. Why not reward spunky Old Men River with a lifetime achievement award and torpedo the competition's credibility in the process, perhaps causing more than five months to pass before the next Club Wars. Plus, the prize money could buy the band many fresh pairs of fuzzy dice.
Then the verdict dropped. Just three words: One Degree Difference. Bravo. Good show. Atta boys.
But José was still robbed.