Day 5A: Athens Not Georgia, Round Two
And now the screaming really starts as we head into the homestretch. Our current running time: 180:33 (and our goal, of course, is as close to 80:00 as possible).
#1 Leslie Keffer, “Taste Tongue to Warm Tummy” (1:34)
#8 Alcest, “Solar Song” (5:24)
Poor Leslie Keffer just keeps getting hammered away at in this competition. Merzbow? Lockstep? Alcest? Game Theory? Boris? Teenage Jesus and the Jerks? That’s a who’s-who of “we’re one of the top three bands in our respective genres”. And she has weathered all of the nose and neck victories with aplomb. But I will be honest: this is the closest of those very close battles, and it would be neck and neck were it not for the time factor. There’s another thing I didn’t predict: that Alcest would come the closest to knocking Leslie Keffer off the #1-seed throne she has held this entire competition (not just #1 seed in her bracket, #1 seed in the entire competition). Alcest head for the bleachers in the face of immovable (and shorter) opposition. Total running time: 175:08.
#5 PainKiller, “TrailMarker” (0:03)
#13 Better than Ezra, “A Lifetime” (3:27)
PainKiller have been leading a charmed life in this competition thanks to being the shortest song here, but Better than Ezra—a band that, honestly, I didn’t think were going to survive past the first couple of rounds—have made me think long and hard about this matchup. The passing of Retch towards the end of Day Four showed that the shortest songs here are still vulnerable, and “A Lifetime” has knocked off some of the most respected artists in this competition, culminating with the massive Death in June upset in the last round. It’s a great, great song, and “TrailMarker”, for all that I’m impressed with it, is basically a novelty act… and so Better than Ezra manage to do it yet again, and in the process knock just three seconds off our total running time, which drops to 175:05.
#3 Charlotte Gainsbourg, “Greenwich Mean Time” (2:25)
#6 Short Dark Strangers, “Flowers of April” (4:29)
I don’t really think of either band this way, but when it comes right down to it, this matchup is two destined-to-be (neither has been around long enough to warrant the moniker yet) classics of outsider music. Gainsbourg’s music career has always played second fiddle to her acting career, like Crispin Glover’s or Johnny Depp’s, while Short Darks vocalist Bobby Porter was one of the way-out-there guys from long, long back who just kept popping up in great band after great band his entire musical life, none of which found an audience outside the Greater Pittsburgh area. Both of them play with the music they’re creating, Gainsbourg with inventive instrumentation, Short Darks with inventive interpretation. And I’ve mentioned both acts’ lyrical abilities in previous matches. This matchup feels like it should be harder than it is, given how much I adore both of these songs, but in the end, when I listen to both of them back to back, every single time I come up with Short Dark Strangers going into the finals. And thus Charlotte Gainsbourg’s amazing run ends here in Day Five, and another almost two and a half minutes is shaved off the total running time, which is now 172:40.
Live AT Coachella, 2010.
#10 Megaptera, “Someone’s at the Door” (4:50)
#2 The Judy’s, “Her Wave” (2:59)
Megaptera were a band I found enjoyable, but never paid a great deal of attention to, before this competition began. Their appearance here in the Final Forty-Eight should tell you all you need to know about how much my perception of them has changed since April 2013. The Judy’s, on the other hand, are a band who have inspired rabid passion in me since the very first time I heard their music, and “Her Wave” has always been a huge part of the reason for that. Longevity rules the day here, and it doesn’t hurt that sending Megaptera to the slaughterhouse cuts almost five minutes off the total running time, which now stands at 167:50.
And the Final Four from Athens Not Georgia…
Better than Ezra, “A Lifetime”
The Judy’s, “Her Wave”
Leslie Keffer, “Taste Tongue to Warm Tummy”
Short Dark Strangers, “Flowers of April”