Thursday, July 13, 2006

You Keep Doing What

Greetings and salutations.

Take a seat, boys and girls. It’s time for us to talk. I’ve been your faithful Phantom for months now, making the trek each week to catch as much as I could of Roanoke’s local music acts and writing to you about all that I see and hear. And rather I was kind to a band (was I ever kind to a band?) or not, people, it seemed, stayed interested. For the folks in bands, even those I hadn’t reviewed, it meant something to have someone barge in and shine a bit of light on their world. And for the people who didn’t play music (we call those people “spectators”), it was a chance to glimpse life on the other side of the stage.

The last few weeks have been very interesting for me, as the Phantom is getting the opportunity to take some long-standing ideas about ways to support local music and make them real. In assessing how I can best serve the musicians and fans who’ve come to support me as I support them, I’ve made a very important decision:

Next week, the Phantom is going to take off his mask.

You read that right. In next week’s column, I am going to unmask myself, revealing my true identity to the world. Some of you may be very disappointed when you find out I’m not nearly as cool of a person as you’ve no doubt imagined I must be. Some of you may be shocked. Some of you may have guessed who I was months ago (in which case, I will just pretend you were still completely amazed at the revelation). Some of you may want to take your revenge. Alright, MOST of you probably want to take your revenge. It’s to be expected.

But getting to see my face isn’t really the exciting news. Not even close. There’s plenty of new stuff on the horizon that I’m looking forward to bringing you, as I intend to do more without the mask than I ever did with it. This is including, but not limited to, a new web project that I’ve had in the works for several months. Despite my overwhelming enthusiasm, I am going to keep the details under wraps until next week’s unveiling, but I can tell you that I’m planning it to be a huge asset to local music. I’ll explain it all a bit more next week, but in the meantime, I’ll be making a brief stop by the WROV studios during this week’s Homegrown Show (Sunday night, 9-10pm on 96.3) and may drop a little more information…but you’ll have to wait and see.

But before I go to shave off my beard for next week’s close-up, we’ve a band battle to address. A record number of votes this week, and a continued outpouring of criticism from people who keep thinking this is a talent competition. I got a lot of well-written insight on several of these bands, and I did enjoy the perspective. Yet I really thought most people would’ve figured out what the goal was by now, especially once folks started pulling out tridents and blowing each other up. I suppose bands rising from the dead or getting impaled by power tools is more common than I thought. And here I’d hoped to be original…

The Pop Rivets vs. Drivn: Both bands advanced to the next round, but not without sustaining heavy losses. Now these two solo acts meet face-to-chiseled face. Agreeing to a gentleman’s contest of dueling pistols, the two met to shake hands, but Jason hadn’t abandoned the trickery that’s brought him this far. Behind the pleasantries, his well-meaning handshake concealed a lethal surprise. Armed only with a electric joy buzzer that he’d somehow wired to the transformer outside, the Pop Rivets’ last man melted the skin right off the lead singer’s perfect bone structure. The Pop Rivets win.

Savior Bullets vs. Illbotz: Deciding to leverage their street cred against the boys in Bullets, the Illbotz came prepared, arriving with an entourage packing more firepower than P. Diddy’s road crew. Outnumbering their rock band adversaries twenty to four, the hip-hoppers lined up to take their place in the next round. But it seems while they were sipping Courvoisier, Savior were busy making a plan to save their skin. Whilst everyone else was getting jiggy with it, they’d breached the Illbotz lab, stolen technical diagrams, and created their OWN botz – robotic hip-hop versions of themselves! As the Illbotz posse attempted to gun them down, the real Bullets led their mechanized counterparts on a rampage, cutting the MC’s and their homies to pieces with friggin’ lasers that Chris suggested they install in the eyes. Savior Bullets wins.

The Discordian Society vs. Cobalt Media: Raising some quick cash from their loyal fanbase, Discordian Society hired mercenaries in the form of Chris Shepard, Corey Hunley, and Charlie Hamill. This band of rogues would attack Media head-on, drawing the full fury of the assault, allowing the Discordian Society the opportunity to catch their foes off guard. But it seems mercenaries aren’t so reliable as you might hope, and when the hour came, the Society was without their aid. Having no choice but to take up arms for themselves, they lost their guitarist immediately as Media’s ninja warrior stepped in, rammed his thumb into his eye, twisted his head off his shoulders, and used it as a bowling ball to knock down two others. Hoping to take the risk his band would need to win, Society’s frontman broke out his ACME Rocket Skates. Donning bat wings and picking up a lance, he fired up the skates and blasted into deadly range. Running his enemy through, he managed to deliver the fatal blow, but not before suffering one of his own, as the warrior used his final breath to punch out his killer’s heart. Even without their ninja, Cobalt Media still held the numbers advantage. Better late than never, however, Society’s hired help finally arrived on the scene and made short work on what was left of Cobalt Media. The Discordian Society wins.

Dark Ruin vs. Madrone: Risen from the dead and seemingly invincible, Dark Ruin looked to put away the last survivor of Madrone and go on the final round. As the sun went down, the undead headbangers waited outside the radio station to feast on their helpless opponent. But they got something they didn’t expect. Collecting his guitars, cars, baseball cards, concert tickets, comic books, antiques, stock certificates, and every last dollar he had, JD had struck a bargain with the one man able to help him: the legendary Robin Reed. Able to barter for Reed’s copy of the Book of the Dead, the dj sent the souls of Dark Ruin back to the underworld, rendering them mortal. As a mob of angry Cave Spring citizens chased them into the hills with torches and pitchforks, the ref raised JD’s arm in victory. Madrone wins.

Next week’s fight will be the final battle, with all four of the remaining bands slugging it out for supremacy. You tell me, who wins in a fight between:

The Pop Rivets vs. Savior Bullets vs. The Discordian Society vs. Madrone

What more can I say? Will see you all next week for the biggest announcement of my career. What an interesting week this is going to be. Until next we meet…

- The Phantom