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Sidecar Sideshow

Racket confronts his hatas at a show in his dishonor

"We can't forget why we're here today," said the lead singer of Katy emocore band Soul Harbour from the stage at the Sidecar Pub. "It's about protesting the Houston Press, and how they don't cover the scene. I know I don't have $10,000 to send the music editor for a CD review."

To say I couldn't believe my ears is an understatement. But there was a lot that was unbelievable about the Sidecar's "Don't Just Live With It" show.

Taking its name from a play on the Press's old tenth-anniversary "Live With It" slogan, the show's stated aim was, as an ad in the Houston Music News put it, to elicit "more 'positive' coverage of the scene, actual visits by the HP music editor, and more coverage of local bands." Bands were asked to bring in promo packets and press kits so that I could "become updated on what's happening on the scene." They planned a petition drive, and patrons were encouraged to write hate mail, all of which Sidecar head honcho Peron Einkauf could dump on my desk with smug satisfaction.

I thought I would rob him of that small pleasure by heading out to the show and picking up the stuff myself. So that everybody would know who I was, a custom T-shirt was printed. On the front, we commemorated the show date. On the back were emblazoned the words "I'm John Lomax and Live with Me."

My wife and I arrived with two companions around 5 p.m. I was disappointed by the low turnout -- if there's going to be a party in my dishonor, I would prefer to have more than a couple dozen people show up. Also, where were the press kits? Though we were there for close to two hours, I didn't receive a single one. For that matter, where was Einkauf? I thought he wouldn't have missed a minute of his Bash-the-Press-alooza, but -- at least while we were there -- he was nowhere to be found.

There were about ten people taking in the Soul Harbour set -- roughly evenly divided between the parents and the girlfriends of the teenage band; the older portion of the crowd remained outside on the front patio. The kindest thing that can be said about the band is that its members were much better informed musically than they were factually, even though what they played was pretty indistinguishable from the music of 1,000 other emo-infused garage bands.

They were nice enough young men. When I ambushed them in the parking lot, waving a tape recorder and demanding to know when and where they got their information about $10,000 reviews, they were quite polite. "Oh, we just read that on the Internet," the singer said. "You know how the rumors are." I noticed that a couple of them were swallowing hard, and began to feel like one of the cops who had hassled me in high school, so I let them off the hook with one final question: "If I really got $10,000 per review, do you think I would be driving that car you're leaning on?" (Some of the band members were standing near the Racketmobile, a reliable if dorky 1993 Ford Escort.)

"Uhhhh, no sir."

Back inside, a Conroe band was playing sloppy, lightly disguised Skynyrd tunes. Marybeth Moore, Einkauf's wife and a co-owner of the Sidecar, came over and thanked me, her voice dripping with sarcasm, for "finally coming out to the club." Actually, this wasn't the first time I had been there. One dreary Thursday night a couple of months ago I took in a metal band that had been together for all of three weeks. (For a metal band that had been together for three weeks, they weren't half bad, but that's not saying much.) Then, Moore noticed something on my shirt, the fact that we had spelled the name of her club "Cydekar Pubb."

"Yeah," I told her, "we did that on purpose. Peron misspells everything in the e-mails he sends us."

Moore and her cronies gave us dirty looks and went "Oooooh" in mock appreciation of the very lightly cutting comment. The mood was getting as ugly and stale as the music coming from the stage. And after this junior-high-level exchange of barbs, it was time to go.

The latest "Don't Just Live With It" bill I could find had more than a dozen bands on it. Clueless as I am, I had heard of only three of them: the metal bands Dereistic and Cronus, and the alternative rock-rap act Laden. I was in the dark about Rigg, Serene, Far From Down, Saving Your Own, Dreaded Dandylions, Turbulent, Graffiti Jones, Satellite Bishops, Handdriver 9 1/2 and Strait Jacket, so I searched the Internet for all of them. This process was hindered by the fact that Einkauf had misspelled several of the bands' names on the show's publicity materials.

Ultimately, the Satellite Bishops were revealed to be from Dallas; why they're down here protesting against me is as illogical as Texans owner Bob McNair going to Dallas and demanding that the local sports pages give more space to the Cowboys. As for the rest, who knows where they're from? Most aren't mentioned anywhere on the Web except in connection with this show (and maybe one or two others). Neither do they have any recordings on the open-to-all MP3.com. If these bands don't have a Web site, press materials, a CD, the occasional gig, or even a couple of tunes online, how can it be held against me that I don't know about them?

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