Every year, various venues in Fort Wayne are the sites of several Battle(s) of the Bands.
They’re contests where the region’s top musical acts are crowned (figuratively), given fairly modest prizes (literally) and sent away with enough bragging rights to last a lifetime or an evanescence, whichever comes first.
Jeff Stumpp, owner of Device Tattoo, wants to turn that tradition on its head and send it through the looking glass.
Which is why Stumpp has launched a competition to find the worst band in Fort Wayne.
The Battle of the Worst Band happens tonight at the Brass Rail.
Stumpp says he based the event on a similar tourney of terribleness that happened in Cleveland in the early ’90s.
That event is so big, it lasts four weeks, he says. I don’t know what made it pop up in my mind. So many interesting bands come to the Rail. I thought it was a great chance to do something different.
Tonight’s musical matchup will not involve any of Fort Wayne’s working bands but will involve some of Fort Wayne’s working musicians.
The five competing acts were all formed especially for this occasion.
Every band has regular playing musicians in it, Stumpp says. I thought it would add an extra level of creativity to have people get with new bands and put themselves in new situations.
It’s a chance for people to take on alter egos and explore crazy ideas that they never thought would work, he says.
Two of the band’s names cannot be printed in a family newspaper, as they used to say in the days when the verb printed and the adjective family were more widely understood.
In Freudian psychological terms, those bands’ names are still in the anal stage.
The other bands are called RPM, Carp and Mind of God.
Genres that will be loosely represented, but enthusiastically misrepresented, this evening include country, speed metal and something Stumpp calls anti-music.
Stumpp says he bought trophies for the occasion at garage sales, took them apart and reassembled them in stylistically and structurally unsound ways.
But he says they all retain their original engravings, like Best Bantam Rooster and such.
Treat it like X Factor’ gone wrong, Stumpp says of the contest, with local celebrity judges, a bad host and bad trophies.
Being the worst band on purpose involves a lot more than playing out of tune or singing off key.
To be entertainingly bad, a performer must possess enough musical acumen to understand where the most hilarious and satisfying ineptitude resides.
Half the people I bring this concept up to don’t get it, Stumpp says. The best way I can describe it is to use a bad movie’ analogy. Somebody might say that Flash Gordon’ is their favorite movie of all time and someone else might respond that it’s ridiculously cheesy.
One man’s garbage is another man’s gold, he says.
If you goWhat: Battle of the Worst Band
When: 10 p.m. today
Where: Brass Rail, 1121 Broadway