Phillips: Embracing your wild side can be unavoidable

Phillips: Embracing your wild side can be unavoidable

October 19th, 2012 by Casey Phillips in Life Entertainment

To be clear, loving music and being a gorilla are two very different things. Except when they're not.

Male gorillas weigh upwards of 400 pounds, fight each other over mates and run around without clothing. Some music fans could certainly stand to drop a few pounds, but they usually abide by laws against assault and public nudity.

Yet to anyone who has witnessed indie-rock aficionados trying to one up each another with chest-beating exchanges of increasingly obscure music trivia, the distinction may be less than clear.

These contests usually begin innocently enough. Music Fan/Gorilla No. 1 mentions how much he enjoyed a popular mainstream album. Sensing a potential contender, Music Fan/Gorilla No. 2 dismisses that selection and offers a glowing recommendation for a more obscure release.

They then continue metaphorically circling each other trying to demonstrate the breadth, if perhaps not the depth, of their knowledge with references to increasingly left-field artists. This goes on until someone surrenders or they reluctantly admit to being equally matched and stalk away unsatisfied.

I found myself in such a contest last week at Track 29 during the intermission of Band of Horses' truly magnificent show. What started as a discussion of Arcade Fire's -- I thought excellent -- "The Suburbs" ended minutes later with me grudgingly giving way after my opponent referenced Death Grips, an experimental hip-hop duo from Sacramento, Calif.

He admitted the Grips were more interesting than good, although upon later listening they were in fact awful, but the damage was done; I clearly had been outmaneuvered. The best response I could offer was a half-hearted suggestion to check out folk/punk rockers The Menzingers' "On the Impossible Past" and retreat in shame.

Obviously, these conversations are pointless, and I'm always mad when I allow my natural competitiveness to draw me into them.

Since the ability exists to record and produce quality albums in a bedroom, there undeniably are tons of amazing undiscovered artists out there, but sometimes, there's a reason you've never heard of someone. Maybe a glockenspiel-fronted Western swing quartet is a terrible idea, and being the only person who knows they exist doesn't change that.

Does being aware of the futility of these conversations alter the fact that I'll undoubtedly face off against someone else some day? Of course not. After all, it's a jungle out there.

  • Chattanooga pulled off a music first last weekend during the RiverRocks climactic Gig City Roots Concert featuring a gigabit-conference by roots musician/producer T-Bone Burnett. There were lots of moving parts, but the show went off without a hitch, said RiverRocks director of marketing Claudia Moore.

"It was great," she said. "It sounded just like he was right there onstage."

If you missed it, the concert will be rebroadcast Oct. 26 at 10 p.m. on WTCI-TV (Comcast channel 5).

Contact Casey Phillips at or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @Phillips CTFP.