SXSW: How Many Band Names Can Dance on the Head of a Pin?

Here’s a prediction.

In the future, there will be a crisis in the music world when all the clever band names have been used up.

Looking at the list of bands competing for some spotlight photons at the music industry’s spring break phenom known as South By Southwest, it’s clear some are straining for a catchy moniker that’ll convince myspace browsers to hang out and get hooked on their grooves. Pocahaunted. AIDS Wolf. Mugu Guymen. Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head (a fairly well-known group that’s been here at SXSW before). Casiotone for the Beautifully Alone.

But what happens when all the clever names are gone? Will bands, like popes, choose predecessors’ names and add a roman numeral (Metallica XVI anyone?)?

Or, perhaps, like some at this festival, they may pun and spell words differently or riff on names: Rakhsan. NID & SANCY. Ringo Deathstarr. Hesta Prynn in Civil Shepherd (that ones causing me some cognitive dissonance). Edie Sedgwick.

Even singer/songwriter John Wesley Harding got his name from a Dylan album (which was named for Texas outlaw John Wesley Hardin, not the Methodist leader John Wesley).

Austin, the world’s live music capital, has long had a tradition of birthing bands with snappy names. Back when I lived here, some of my favorites were called Poi Dog Pondering (whuh?), Shoulders and Glass Eye.

One of my long-time Austin favorites (musically and moniker-ly) is Hot Club of Cowtown. They still tour and played a day-long set the other day.

And here are some of my favorite new band names from the Texas capital:

And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead

more_cowbell_music_awards3More Cowbell (riffing on a hilarious SNL skit with Christopher Walken as a record producer at a Blue Oyster Cult session; pictured left).

We Were Promised Jetpacks

And, one that I am tempted to use some time as the subject line to a significant other: I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness. (Their music is quite good)

So far, in my work here, I’ve chatted with quite a few bands, some of whose names you may hear more of soon: Grizzly Bear; BLK JKS (pronounced Black Jacks); Dirty Projectors; and The Pains of Being Pure of Heart.

I’ll let you know when you can see and hear them on


One thought on “SXSW: How Many Band Names Can Dance on the Head of a Pin?

  1. Band names crack me up – they’re stealth-clever. Good post.

    There’s one here called “Gringo Starr.” I’ve not seen them- clubbing is getting past me – but they’re tagged all over the Krog Street bridge.

    I’ve always wondered about Poi Dog Pondering, too.

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