Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Murder's Half Acre Headlines MapFest 2011 (Plus: The Biker Whose Radio Betrayed Him)

Happy belated Victoria Day! I hope you all enjoyed your day off; it ended in an overnight frost warning that has continued the rest of the week thus far, so any delicate plants you left outside are probably dead, but other than that HAPPY VICTORIA DAY.

I've been lying low the last little while, busying myself with my usual webmaster work and vocal work and column work (yo, Uptown this Thursday, grab it) plus seasonal cottage-opening duties and doing my best to land actual paying employment (it was so close I could taste it oh please please please please), but left to my own devices long enough I go the blogging equivalent of stir-crazy and bust out something ludicrous.

Such is the case today! It was on the most recently recorded episode of Winnipeg Internet Pundits that we discussed the unflattering and undeserved moniker of "Murder's Half Acre" for West Broadway; Point Douglas deals with a similarly unsavoury nickname, a neighbourhood intermittently dubbed the "Fire Zone". And my initial thought was that it is neither nice nor proper to name neighbourhoods like they're metal bands -- but then I gave that sentiment a second thought and corrected myself that, no, wait a minute, that would be awesome.

So! What if we did name as many of our neighbourhoods as possible like they were metal bands? I soon added "and punk bands" to the end of that question, as you'll discern for yourself shortly; I've got a bit of a subversive streak in me, so the punk names rolled a little more easily for me than some of the metal names did.

With the exception of "Fire Zone" -- one of the two names that inspired this exercise in the first place, and one that overlaps with some Dutch band I'd never heard of ("FireZone"? Alright, close enough) -- I gave myself the arbitrary restriction that none of these neighbourhood renames could be the name of an existing band. Why? Man, I don't know; seemed proper at the time. This ended up playing directly to my modus operandi of making things way harder for myself than they need to be, although I'm sure it would have been entertaining for anyone who could have seen my reactions to different Google searches. "That's taken? It--really? Okay, what about--oh come on--" These will be noted where applicable, particularly because some of these took multiple revisions before I hit an open spot.

So grab your lighters and throw up the horns, because it's time to break out the map:

(Yes, if you were wondering, I also gave myself the arbitrary restriction that every band's wordmark had to have a different font. I'm... thorough like that.)

But who are these hypothetical bands, and what genres do they cover? Let's you and I go over each act real quick, in a vague approximation of left-to-right and up-to-down.

Blood for Ink
Inkster, grindcore

With a name like this one I was on the fence about whether the music would be super grimy or super whiny, but I let the harder side win out. Songs by Blood for Ink are fast, brutal, and about thirty seconds long -- just like most folks' descriptions if you ask them to tell you everything they know about Inkster.

Scar Garden
Garden City / McPhillips, alternative metal

Well, "Garden of Evil" is taken, that's fair enough. And "Garden of Bleedin'" is also taken, which made me cross as all get-out because that is a great name for a one-off gag and a terrible name for an actual band.

There are also already bands out there in real life named "Hanging Garden", "Blood Garden", "Garden of Decay" (dammit, I wanted that one), "Garden of Sorrow", "Garden of Sinners", "The Garden Band", and plain old "Gardens". People like plants, you guys.

I picture Scar Garden's music as being what Sevendust would sound like if you spent half an hour smacking them upside the head to piss them off first.

Cadaver Field
Murray Avenue / McPhillips, pop-punk

A few years back, the fields just off Murray Avenue were the place to go if you wanted to dump a corpse or two; if West Broadway was "Murder's Half Acre" because people died near but not in the neighbourhood, I think this is a fair equivalent.

I also have this idea in my head of "Cadaver Field" as one of those bands that initially sounds way cooler than they actually end up being, like you download their free EP because their name sounds heavy and then what you get are songs about angst and high school girls and sitting around being sad. Screw you, Cadaver Field.

Peguis / Kildonan, skate punk

Now, if I ask you to come up with a band name involving this area, the chances are pretty high that your brain will immediately snap to The Fabulous Kildonans. And rightfully so! That covers the market pretty well (unless you want to be the guy who goes "WE COULD CALL IT KILL-DONAN, HURR", but... don't be that guy), so I figured I'd work off of the local landmarks instead.

There's a smaller sub-neighbourhood named "Valhalla" up there, which is awesome, but you'd be crazy not to think that existing bands haven't already mined that sucker dry. (I had mainly hoped for the availability of "Valhalla Drive", but alas not.) With that said, "Valhalla Barbers" is a legit barbershop up there but not a band name yet, and I could have conceivably ended it at that.

But what I really wanted to do, out of all of this, was build on the Chief Peguis Trail in particular (coincidentally what the city is doing right now), so I poked around a bit into the history of its namesake to see what I could see. Chief Peguis was a pretty interesting dude, I don't know how much you know about him, but here's a neat little character note: he would have been roughly in his late twenties when he got into a giant brawl, and during the chaos and confusion of the fight a dude ran up and bit a chunk off his nose. Peguis lived another sixty-two years after that, and for the rest of his life -- despite everything he had accomplished, and despite a name change to "William King" during his conversion to Anglicanism -- for the rest of his life he had wags coming up to him and calling him "Cut Nose". Or "Chief Cut-Nose", or occasionally "the Cut-Nose Chief". Man, people could be real dicks sometimes back then, I tell you what.

I was as surprised as you must be to learn that there has never, as far as Google can ascertain, never been a band named any variant of "Cutnose". Crazy, right? And if I had to guess what kind of a band a Cutnose would be, I'm pretty confident that they'd be bottom-carders on the Warped Tour and Propagandhi would want to smack them for being there. So Cutnose it is!

(You get a no-prize if you knew instantly, on sight, that I used the Pokémon font for this band. Ha ha, you nerd.)

Liberation Tigers of Taman Inquiry
East St. Paul, melodic hardcore

In the grand anarchic tradition of punk rock, songs dealing with politics or current events involve a three-step process:

1) Read the newspaper;
2) Decide that something in the newspaper has made you mad;
3) Write lyrics about it.

LTTI -- the Liberation Tigers of Taman Inquiry -- are outspokenly anti-authoritarian, want to be Bad Religion when they grow up, and spend an average of ten minutes per member per day explaining just what in the sam hill their name means.

The Maudwalks
Magnus Avenue / Main Street, grunge

"Starlight Drive" is already a band. Oh my god was I mad that "Starlight Drive" is already a band, you have no idea.

Magnus at Main is the intersection where Evan Maud was picked up for his infamous starlight drive by the Winnipeg Police Service, infamous because it turned out the whole thing was made up and Maud was later charged with public mischief. (Yes, "Public Mischief" has already been a band name too. I know, right? Frustrating.) "Evan Maud Marathon" would have been too belaborous, and "Maudhoney" would have been too cute by half -- I think I would have wanted to punch me if I'd gone ahead with "Maudhoney" -- but I think The Maudwalks strikes the balance nicely, so here we are.

Assiniboia Downs, extreme metal

You will note I only busted out the metal umlaut twice this whole time, an act of restraint I will consider to be a personal success.

"Glue Factory" is already a band, as was "Glue", "GLuE", "The Glue", "Glue Gun", and then -- I thought this was cute -- a different "Glue Gun" band skirting the potential confusion by renaming themselves "Glü Gun". (Their debut album was "Just Glü It". Yeah, I know.)

But no "Glued"! Or "Glüed", which I figured was the best decision because, hey, umlaut. (Also still available is "Gluehoof", but it doesn't really roll off the tongue that well.)

For the most effective morbidity of a metal band naming themselves "Glüed" after a horse racing track, I like to imagine that the debut album would be named "Glüed to Death". It's the little touches, y'know?

Cannibal Greyhound
Airport, thrash metal

The bus depot got moved out to the airport, and busing through Manitoba is most associated now with a dude getting eaten, so this one isn't really rocket science. Prospective shock-rock provocateurs could actually just call their band "Vince Weiguang Li" and have people going "what is wrong with you", but "Cannibal Greyhound" is such a perfectly crafted thrash name that it just leapt from my head fully formed and I walked away from it right then and there. There's no improving that one, no sir.

Phantom Train
North End / CPR Yards, doom metal

...And You Will Know Us by the Train of Dead

"Graveyard Train" is a real band; "Doomtrain" is a real band as well. But no "Phantom Train", which I was honestly surprised by, and no "Train Graveyard" either. (I could have named this area "Orgasmatron", but unless you have a working knowledge of Motörhead covers it wouldn't have made a lick of sense to you.) Between "Phantom Train" and "Train Graveyard", well, only one of them is a Final Fantasy III reference, so I am firm in my belief that I made the right choice.

Fire Zone
Point Douglas, thrashcore

This, as mentioned above, is one of the two actual neighbourhood nicknames that inspired this post. Although "The Prystanskis" would not have been a half-bad substitution, had "Fire Zone" not been canon.

Bloodstained Flamingos
Transcona, post-hardcore

I tell you what -- and I can't get this notion out of my head now -- I'm pretty sure the calling card for a band like this would be their extensive library of heavy-metal Doug and the Slugs covers. They wouldn't even bother writing "Transcona" anywhere on their albums, it would just be entirely redundant at that point. Every reviewer includes the word "quirky" at least twice per article, and the band refuses to play any venue where a beer hits five dollars.

If you were wondering: I was going to add a second band above Park Pontiac on the map, and then -- wouldn't you know it -- "Wickhead" was already taken. fffffffff

Sargent Slaughter
Assiniboine Park, speed metal

Full disclosure: this one was originally intended for Sargent Avenue, but you can see how the map was already pretty squished around there, so I shuffled it over to be around Sargent Sundae instead. Not a bad outlet to have!

There is no "Sargent Slaughter" band, oddly; there's a "DJ Sargent Slaughter", which would be an issue if the guy MC Hammers the first couple letters off his name later down the road, but otherwise it'd be fine. You know what is an existing band name, though? "Sargent Avenue". And they're from Grand Rapids, Michigan. I don't know either, man.

Murder's Half Acre
West Broadway, death metal

MapFest organizers are pleased to announce Murder's Half Acre as the headlining act for MapFest 2011! Bringing their foreboding signature sound to the MapFest stage, and touring on the strength of recent album "Caribbean Charybdis", local metalheads Murder's Half Acre promise to throw open the granite gates of hell and reign supreme with the heaviest guitars you've heard all year. Tickets are available at all MapFest venues, or ten dollars more expensive through Ticketmaster for no adequately explained reason.

The Forks, drudge metal

"Floating Corpse" was already taken, but otherwise this one pretty well just wrote itself.

(Another no-prize for you if you correctly identified this as one of the signature fonts from Resident Evil. You nerd.)

Dead Bears
Assiniboine Zoo, metalcore

We used to have a lot more bears at the Zoo, but, well, they got old and they died. Now we have to buy more bears. But we aren't allowed to buy more without upgrading our antiquated bear facilities, because bearkeeping standards have changed dramatically since the Zoo originally built its bear spaces. The upgrades would have been investigated earlier, but it would have been considered cruel to change the habitat that these old bears were used to, so everybody involved basically agreed to just leave it be and wait for the bears to die. Zoo explanations get kind of morbid, sometimes.

Steak Tartare 666
Wellington Crescent / Tuxedo, power metal

Rich, raw and bloody is the name of the game for Steak Tartare 666, tenderizing audiences with a barrage of meaty solos and a grade-A stage show that accentuates their extremely rare skill. No mincing words: rest assured that when Steak Tartare 666 hit the stage for MapFest 2011, you had better be prepared.

beef jokes, guys, what up

Marijuana Wickerman
Wolseley, powerviolence

I like this one best as the conceptual flipside to Cadaver Field above; the name lulls you in, like "oh, that's kind of cute, I bet they're laid-back dudes" and then HOLY SHIT LOOK OUT

Osborne Village, gothic metal

When I busted out a pun this hokey on the show, surely you figured nobody would ever actually use it, right? You'd be surprised! "Stillborn", "Stillborne" and "Steelborn" are all actual, legitimate, everyone-agreed-to-this band names; "Steelborne", extraneous umlaut optional, is not. Or, at least, not yet.

Steelbörne are humourless, and slightly too scrawny to be taken seriously, but you can tell they mean business because they frown a lot and only wear their American Apparel in black.

French Quartered
St. Boniface, groove metal

"We need a name that's witty at first, but that seems less funny each time you hear it."
"How about, 'French Quartered'?"
"Ha! Ha ha ha! Ha ha ha... ahhhh... hm."
"Yeah, I like it!"

Fuck Unicity
Headingley, hardcore punk

I could have danced a little more around this one, but, nah. I think this sums up Headingley's attitude towards Winnipeg pretty succinctly, be it actively in their disassembling of the Unicity compact in 1993 or quietly in their disdain for everything that still exists within the city. I don't begrudge them the sentiment; if my only regular exposure to Winnipeg was its lizard-brained drivers and its remorseless convicts, I'm sure I'd think less of the place myself too.

Softserve Shotguns
Fort Rouge, industrial metal

This made me mad like you wouldn't believe: I came up with "Shotgun Jubilee" for this one, which I think we can all agree would have been perfect, and then it turned out that somebody had already taken it. Oh, man, I was grumpy. "Shotgun Avenue" was also taken, as were "Shotgun House Band" and "The Shotgunners" -- fair enough, shotguns are pretty universal -- so I went in a different direction and came up with an absolutely brilliant fallback choice, only to learn that a real life band has taken "Beady Eyes" already. DAMMIT

Here's something to think about: assuming he doesn't get accidentally let out of jail before then, Daniell Anderson will be eligible for parole in two years. Crazy, right? Doesn't even seem that long ago.

The Pat Martin Pennies
The Mint / Southdale, Celtic punk

Nobody in this band so much as approaches sobriety between St. Patrick's Day and the end of Folklorama. It's a good life, if you don't weaken.

Tha L-Woodz
Lindenwoods, nu-metal

Get out ya guns!! Combining the musical stylings of Papa Roach with the take-no-prisoners street cred of Lindenwoods, this fearsome foursome are here to stick it to "The Man" the way only Tha L-Woodz can!!

Somewhere deep below the surface of the earth, in a furnished basement that is bigger than your house, one boy has dug up his older brother's abandoned Korn discography and now his friends are all convinced that they have identified the future of music. This is happening, as we speak, and all of their relatives are going to have to pretend that this is a positive development.

I was originally going to name this band the "House Hippos", because that sounds like the kind of kitsch that would result from the description I just wrote, but there actually already is a band named "House Hippos". So that's, uh... well, that's something. Also taken were "Woods", "The Woods", "Woodz" (ugh), "The Woodies" (ughh), "Woodiez" (ughhhh), "The Elwoods", and -- really a Hail Mary on my part at that point -- "White People".

Not that I'd been clamouring to have the nu-metal representation on the map, but it's hard to picture much else out that way; driving around Lindenwoods is bad enough before you realize that it's probably also teeming with Juggalos. Friggin' Lindenwoods, man.

Minnetonka / St. Vital, hair metal

Oww! Baby! If you're ready for a classic-rockin' good time, look no further -- the handsome heartbreakers of Sinnetonka are here to make your wedding, birthday, social, or corporate event fun!

I'm pretty sure you have this band figured out without much preamble: white, leathery, armed to the teeth with '80s covers, and never out of work so long as the concept of "cougar night" continues to exist.

You may have noted that the bands on the south of this map are increasingly white and lame, and that's because... the neighbourhoods on the south of this map are increasingly white and lame. But let's throw them a bone with the

Whyte Ridge Baptists
Whyte Ridge, heavy metal

I mean, sure, I could have just gone with some crap like "Whytesnake" and then ran the same angle as above, but in researching Whyte Ridge (having, to my recollection, never been there) I learned that one of the neighbourhood's main features is the Whyte Ridge Baptist Church. Not only does "Whyte Ridge Baptists" have a satisfying heft to it, it also seems like the kind of name a bunch of bikers forming a band would think was funny.

And I don't use "bikers" here to represent the lameass middle-class white people you get now who think they're intimidating because they spent an extra three dollars on a lighter with a Harley-Davidson logo on it. No, I'm thinking of the original concept, the really fearsome oldschool bikers: the burly, rotund, grimy sons of bitches that made small towns nervous, made tattoo parlours rich, and made the middle class think motorcycles were cool in the first place. If four or five stocky, grizzly, Motorhead-soundin' motherfuckers walk into the bar and tell everyone that their band name is the Whyte Ridge Baptists -- who's going to tell them they're not? Well, you sure ain't, tough guy. Sit down.

A Tangentially Related Biker Anecdote:

Have I ever told you this story? I don't think I have! Okay, get this, this was tremendous.

One of the funniest things I remember seeing as a teenager was a big middle-aged white dude on a Harley, dressed in black leather everything, coming to a stop on DNR Road in Winnipeg Beach with Power 97 blaring at top volume from his handlebars. No buddies, no pack of fellow bikers, just this one dude. And he's expecting everybody to be super impressed, right? Rolls to a stop, straddles his bike with the radio broadcasting his arrival so he's absolutely impossible to miss, and surveys what I'm sure he was imagining as his kingdom. The only problem, the one flaw in his strategy, was that this was the summer of 1999 and 1999 was a shit year for music -- so the big rock hit Power 97 was playing thirty times a day was Def Leppard's "Promises", which is the softest and lamest song in the Def Leppard catalogue. Soft and lame by Def Leppard standards.

Go ahead, picture all that. Picture everything I just described to you with this playing behind it. Believe me when I tell you, because this is the truth, you could see in this poor man's eyes that he was just mortified. Jesus Christ, Def Leppard. What do you even do after Power 97 just lops your nuts off like that? It wasn't as though he could just subtly reach down and change the station, now that he had purposefully drawn everybody's attention and everybody in town (everybody in town) could hear his radio. Do you get off the bike, leaving it right there at the stop sign, and walk away trying to look inconspicuous? "Boy, uh, what's with that music playing? Whoever that guy is, he oughtta turn that thing down! Man!"

No, there was really only the one option, given the situation: sit back down, motor away back out of town as quickly as possible, and never again acknowledge that this ever happened. This was exactly the path of action he chose, and I don't believe I ever saw that guy around town again, but the memory is burned indelibly into my brain as the finest lesson possible on how comedy is just somebody trying and failing to be taken seriously. One day I will be old and grey, unable to remember my family or friends or my own name, but I will remember the chorus of Def Leppard's "Promises" and a man wishing he could retract his head into his body like a turtle, and I will laugh until the orderlies wheel me away and medicate me into silence.

Waverley West, black metal

Bigger than Brandon and blacker than sin, Hellsprawl exploded from out of nowhere in 2005 to become a major force on the local scene. Their reputation expanding rapidly after the 2010 release of their "Ugly Growth" EP, Hellsprawl aims to overwhelm this year's MapFest with their magnetic musicality and larger-than-life stage presence. You'll be sprawling for more!

I was amazed this isn't already a band name. It's even fun just to say, especially if you draw both syllables out. (Try it! It's fun!)

Thirty-Year Shitstorm
Fort Richmond / River Park South, speed metal

They switch to "The Veolias" for all-ages shows, but no, it doesn't really fool anybody particularly well. Thirty-Year Shitstorm is one of the less popular bands on this year's MapFest roster, partially because the name prevents them from getting regular airplay, but also due to the sheer dissonance of their music. Being loud, quick to anger, largely ignored, mostly unrecognized, and rarely ever listened to, Thirty-Year Shitstorm have bright futures ahead of them as prospective city councillors.

And if you think this sounds like a gratuitous and unrealistic name for a band, please be advised that "Shitstorm" on its own is already taken. By more than one band. There are at least two named "Shitstorm" and one named "S.H.I.T.S.T.O.R.M.", and I would follow that with some sort of joke but nothing I add is going to make that knowledge any sillier.

Other / Unlisted:

There wasn't enough room to squeeze "Petroleum Council" above the City Hall area or "Your Downtown" along Portage, and there were too many viable locations for me to decide what neighbourhood "Double Fatböy" would hail from, so those were left off the map you see above. We definitely need a queercore band named "Take Pride Winnipeg", I think that's pretty obvious, but I'm not sure where that would go either.

And feel free to chip in if you've got a good metal or punk band name for a neighbourhood that I missed, or another unflattering neighbourhood nickname of years past; I'm certainly not an expert on the entire town, so I'm sure there are gaps in this coverage that need filling.

MapFest 2011, guys! A fictional festival for fictional local bands! Yes, that is correct, I have lost my mind.

What next for the blog? Well, I completely missed the window of opportunity for NHL conference final predictions (I'm pretty sure I would have blurted out something like Tampa in five and Vancouver in six, so what do I know), but there'll definitely have to be a hockey post coming up soon. Not immediately -- but once a few more of the loose story threads out there are officially and confirmedly wrapped up, don't you know.

Plus there's Winnipeg Internet Pundits today, an Uptown column tomorrow, the Chip Damage Control podcast coming over the weekend, and I've got some fine shenanigans in mind for the month of June if I'm still an unemployed undesirable when this month winds down. So, hey! Stay tuned, true believers!


Winnipeg Girl said...

Now THAT was a great way to start off my day! If you don't get at least one person finding your blog after googling "awesome name for new band" I'll be really disappointed!

Anonymous said...

Great post!

Winnipeg Girl said...

Thinking about it, Demon Drainage Ditches would work for a group from Charleswood. I initially just thought of Demon Ditches but then I remembered that alliteration is fun.

Whew. Now that that is out of my system I can go back to work!

Anonymous said...

Very good post. Some more:

-"Rat kielbasa" for some Ukrainian atmosphere
-"Juba", simple yet powerful. Possibly an umlaught over the u?
- "Lowtrack walk-in"

I guess mapfest would have to be held at Garbage Hill.

Anonymous said...

Start selling t-shirts now! There are legions of Hellsprawl fans in Waverley West with money to burn.