This thread is inspired by two events: the sighting of a car plastered with bumper stickers for indie bands, exactly zero of which I've heard of; and the increasing amount of spam popping up on message boards from "street teamers" promoting bands they're fans of. The names of the bands all seem quite random, making no sense, but they all seem distinctly modern.
Nonsensical band names are nothing new; they've been popular since the 1960s, and there's been a lot of threads that make fun of them.
This isn't one of them.
I'm going to throw a random name of a non-existent band out there; Angst Blossom. If I heard that name, I would assume it's a contemporary emo band. Same thing with most of the thread names and word combinations that have inspired people to call out "band name!" on one message board I belong to, like:
The Definite Article
Sub-Primal Cut of Pork
The Traveling Silverfish
13 Minute Blackout
People Who Hew
Steel Cut Oatmeal
Toads Like To Be Stroked
Primaquine and the Negros
Here's the names of some real local bands in the Cleveland area.
Free Sample Tuesday
Murder by Midnight
Salt The Wound
Steve's Big Zipper
This Is Exploding
Those Left Behind
Victory By Default
There's a lot that's formulaic about 1950s and 1960s-era band names, like the "[name of artist] and [name of group]" title; Dion and the Belmonts, Johnny and the Hurricanes, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Shep and the Limelites, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, and so on, ad nauseaum. Still, there were plenty of nonsensical band names out there during the time. When I hear them, though, they sound old and dated, like that nonsensical combination somehow seems old-fashioned compared to the nonsensical combination of a more contemporary band.
To avoid any bias from familiarity -- that is, the fact I know the Rolling Stones and The Who have been around for ages -- I searched for, and found, a Web site with names of 1960s and 1970s-era local bands that I never heard of. Here's some of the names:
Mystic Number National Bank
Next of Kin
For some reason, the names of the unknown contemporary nonsensically named bands just sound ... well, newer in some way, compared to the older bands with equally nonsensical names. There's a few names that could pass muster today, but I just can't picture a band with the name of "Midnight Flyer" playing in a club today (unless it's a blue-collar gin mill), or a band with a name like "Free Sample Tuesday" opening for Blondie, The New York Dolls, ELO or Jimi Hendrix - hell, not even a 1990s-era band like Nirvana or Red Hot Chili Peppers.
I'm wondering ... why? What is it about a new band name that makes it sound new, even though it follows the same formula as older band names?
There also seems to be a difference between older and newer band names that start with "The". Consider contemporary "The [name]" bands from KC
The Secret Club
The Spook Lights
Early local/unknown "The [name]" bands from Kansas City:
Again, the 1950s/1960s unknown "The [something]" names sound old-fashioned, while the new "The [something] names sound modern. I just can't picture a band named "The Setbacks" playing the hop at Pleasant Valley High School, or "The Organtones" playing to a crowd of emaciated kids wearing ironic t-shirts. Why?