By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Houston's Blue October has sold out a spacious venue just weeks after the spectacular 80-some-odd band Wall of Sound Festival did not, proving that the metroplex is confused about which bands suck and which bands don't. In our ever-vigilant effort to get your heads straight, here are five signs that a band might really, really suck, presented as a public service:
1. The lead singer wears eyeliner. Robert Smith might get away with it because he's been doing it longer than most B.O. fans have been alive (though that actually seems like a good reason to quit). But My Chemical Romance and Good Charlotte have proven there is a direct correlation between allowing a dude in your band to wear black eyeliner and sucking. There may be exceptions, but Blue October is not one of them.
2. The band has a violinist...not a fiddler, but a violinist. Fort Worth's Alan might be the exception that proves this rule, but normally violins and rock go together like personal hygiene and Devendra Banhart. If you have to ask, "What about Dave Matthews Band, bro?" put down this paper and get back to your hacky-sack game.
3. The band's songwriter has ever said anything like, "It's like, let me just kind of clue you in on what it feels like in my own brain." No need to tell me, I can already imagine. I bet it's nice in there, Justin Furstenfeld: roomy and probably furnished with enough dope residue from your overly confessed addictions to provide years of fun. If the first sentence in a band's official bio is how much he loves his record label and the second sentence is this kind of drivel, proceed with caution.
4. The guitarist constantly name-checks Steve Vai in interviews. Look, Brant Coulter, just because your guitar teacher supped from the buttholes of Vai and Satriani doesn't mean that you should try to sound like them. Nobody except a few guitar students wants to hear riffs that sound like they're played by robots. If you think that's cool, maybe you should put a guitar pick in your mouth and stick out your tongue for every promo pic just like Vai did. Better yet, maybe you should pour Drano into a mixing bowl and put your hands in it until they dissolve. Your screams would be more pleasant than your licks.
5. The songs feature junior-high diary lyrics and histrionically over-emoted singing. Really, this could be simplified to "having anything to do with the song 'Hate Me.'" Lines like "I have to block out thoughts of you, so I don't lose my head/They crawl in like a cockroach leaving babies in my bed" make it hard to resist the easy jab of the song title. Cockroaches lay eggs. Juvenile cockroaches are larvae, not babies. And how can plural thoughts behave like a singular...never mind. Those two lines are so confusing, I don't know where to begin.