Every year, various venues in Fort Wayne are the sites of several Battle(s) of the Bands.
Theyre contests where the regions 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 dont 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.
Tonights musical matchup will not involve any of Fort Waynes working bands but will involve some of Fort Waynes 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.
Its a chance for people to take on alter egos and explore crazy ideas that they never thought would work, he says.
Two of the bands 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 dont 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 its ridiculously cheesy.
One mans garbage is another mans gold, he says.