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Posted at 1:42 PM ET, 03/11/2011

Is this the worst era ever for band names?

By Chris Richards

sxsw band namesThere will be pandas: With thousands of bands headed to Austin for SXSW, let's hope their music is more inventive than their names. (Illustration by Spike Press.)

If you want to stand out at South by Southwest — the sprawling week-long music festival where thousands of rock acts invade Austin each and every spring — your band will need a name that’s both unique and really, really cool.

Bears are cool — as long as you don’t name your band Bear Hands, Bear Driver, Bearsuit, Boy & Bear, Deer Bear or the Bears of Blue River. Those bands are already booked to play in Austin once the festival ramps up on Wednesday.

Maybe you could pick a specific kind of bear. Like a panda. Just don’t name it Hot Panda or Gold Panda. Those acts are playing SXSW, too.

But gold is such a nice color. How about Solid Gold? Already booked. So are Gold Beach, Gold Motel, Golden Ages, Goldenboy, Such Gold, the Golden Ghosts and, yes, Golden Bear.

So no bears, no pandas, no gold. (There’s a band playing SXSW called No Gold.)

Also, no moons. The Hot Moon, the Soft Moon, Moon Duo and the Moondoggies are all headed to Austin. So are Diamond Rings, I See Stars and Babe Rainbow. Don’t name your band after anything you’ve seen floating around in a bowl of Lucky Charms.

And please don’t combine two dull, sorta-unrelated words and call it a band name. This year, SXSW is overrun with those acts: Slow Animal, Still Corners, Withered Hand, Bare Wires, Buoyant Sea, Brass Bed, Grass Widow and Lazy Native, just to name way too many.

Simplicity can be a good thing, but don’t name your band after something simple that everyone dreads, such as Prison, Christmas or Taxes. (Death is a cool name, but they played SXSW last year.)

And why would you name your band after a pun as lame as Guantanamo Baywatch? Gringo Star and Ringo Deathstarr? Ditto for Galapaghost. Can you imagine having to say, “Hi, we’re Galapaghost” on stage every night? Everyone will think you’re saying “Galapagos,” anyway. Unless you’re actually dressed up like ghosts.

And that’s a bad look. The crowd might confuse you for Warm Ghost. Or Ghost Lapse. Or Ghost Animal. Or Jukebox the Ghost. Or the Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger. Or the Marshmallow Ghosts. The Lucky Charms rule applies to all breakfast cereals, really.

This one’s obvious, but avoid using the word “black” at all costs. Black Lips, Black Cherry, Black Hippy, Black Taxi and seventy-kerjillion other Black Whatevers are already playing SXSW.

Same goes for the Green Whatevers (the Greenhornes, Green & Wood), the White Whatevers (White Denim, White Dress, White Mystery) and the Yellow Whatevers (the Yellowdogs, Yellow Ostrich, Yellowbirds, YellowFever).

And don’t name your band something that makes me want to slap you when you say it out loud, like Wakey! Wakey!

Sorry. Deep breath.

But that reminds me — don’t use exclamation points! If you do, you’re no better than My! Gay! Husband!, Vampires Everywhere!, Say “No!” to Architecture, OFF!, Simon Says No! and the wordless originators of this unfortunate meme: !!!.

Maybe all the great band names have been taken. There’s a certain “it’s-all-been-done-before” ennui that permeates this crazy information age. And it’s spawned a generation of musicians that sound like they’ve given up and resorted to naming themselves after whatever they see in their living rooms — the Couch, the Endtables, Wallpaper, Ham Sandwich.

But that doesn’t mean your band should dash off to the other end of the spectrum and pick a super-wacky moniker just so people can find you on Google. I haven’t heard you guys yet, but you certainly have more dignity than Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Mustard Pimp, Gobble Gobble and Injured Ninja, right?

Good. Keep that chin up. Because in an era where rock-and-roll is searching for its missing mojo, nothing is more Freudian than naming yourself something idiotic and/or extinct, such as Dinosaur Bones, Dinosaur Feathers, Dinosaur Pile-Up, the Dodos or Really Great Band Names.

Kidding about that last one. Really Great Band Names isn’t actually a band. It’s a pretty lousy name, but it’s available if you want to use it. I just Googled it, and you’re totally golden. I mean, clear.

By Chris Richards  | March 11, 2011; 1:42 PM ET
Categories:  In today's Post  | Tags:  SXSW  
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