Based On Music Scene, Houston May Be U.S.'s 4th-Dumbest City

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Sooooo... The Daily Beast has compiled its second annual list of the dumbest cities in America. Houston came in fourth from last (out of 55), just ahead of our neighbors in San Antonio. The list is compiled through a great many things, such as the number of libraries, cultural investments and college degrees per capita. Rocks Off has no beef with the way the survey was conducted, but...

Actually, no. We have no beef at all. Here in the music scene, Rocks Off has seen some pretty dunderheaded doings since we started as a journalist. We're not sure how representative some of the mishaps we've reported on are of the Houston music scene as a whole, or how they stack up to what's happening in these allegedly smarter towns, but they do stand out enough to give us some pause.

Maybe we do deserve the designation a little.

For instance, we've noticed a lot of Houston bands pick names without ever bothering to find out if another group is already using it. The most notorious example of this was when, a couple of years ago, HPMA Award winners The Dimes were forced to switch their name to Young Mammals after an established Oregon act contacted them threatening legal action.

The Dimes were already aware of the other band, but laughed off the idea that anything would ever come of it. That seems to be the most basic response. As far as we know, Glasnost also has no back-up plan for what would happen if any of the several other bands using the name were to challenge them. The Abyss is also apparently unconcerned should the long-running metal band have a problem with sharing.

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"We've checked, and the name's not trademarked," The Abyss has previously stated. Trademarked or not, when you've been releasing albums for 16 years there is no doubt who is going to win that lawsuit.

It's not like you can't type the name you want to use into Goog'e, add "Myspace" after it, and find out posthaste whether our not you're late to the party with your chosen battle cry. Rocks Off has wanted to front a band called The Tonberries since we were a small child. Well, too bad. Someone else has it.

We can either pout about it, or we can put on our big-girl panties and move on. At least Light Parade was smart enough to change their name to Castle Lights so Bright Light Parade wouldn't have to write them an angry letter.

It's not just bands we've seen pulling some lobotomized stunts. A few of the promoters and clubs around here deserve some of the blame. When the minds behind Summer Fest bought Fitzgerald's, the one thing everyone could agree on was how wonderful the death of the doomed pyramid scheme that the club had taken to using on local bands was.

Basically, they were making bands buy their own tickets to resell them before the show. You can chalk that one up to greed, but it's absolutely ridiculous to think that that model was ever going to work long-term. Or what about Jess Wilson's plan to book bands at Mango's by paying them in free drinks instead of folding cash?

Sure, it beats paying to practice, but there is no way that it beats getting paid to play. Rocks Off certainly isn't going to play there for free, and we have a hard time imagining any real name bands are going to go for it either.



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