Lions And Tigers And Bearfighters, Oh My!

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It's a well-known fact that most band names are essentially gobbledygook, but here at Rocks Off we're trying hard to find meaning in the oddest monikers.

If Rocks Off had a nickel for every time we were compared to Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz we would definitely be wondering how we went from wanting to be an astronaut to such a strange occupation. All joking aside, it an avid reader pointed out that we had done already deconstructed The Lions of Tsavo and This Year's Tiger.

The only thing left to complete the Oz trifecta was to find a band with the word "bear" in the title.

As fate would have it, this Friday Walter's will host a metal band from Lafayette, La., called Bearfighter. Honestly, it's like there's some kind of weird god of hacks who smiles down upon us. In describing Bearfighter we first give them their props for naming a song after the best line in the movie Hook, "Looky looky, I got Hooky."

If you didn't like that film, we refuse to believe you exist.

The rest of our description hangs on words like "guttural," "pounding," "angry," and at least three variations of the word "metal." It's the kind of music you listen when brain damage can only be an improvement. It's the kind of music you pull off sick stunts to. It's the kind of music you're forced to stop listening to when you get married. It's also damn catchy.

That name though... Bearfighter?

Is that a bear who is a fighter like in Kung Fu Panda, or is it some idiot who thinks they're Zangief from Street Fighter and they can fight bears? One is awesome, the other is an unfortunate mess that some park ranger definitely was not looking forward to when he put on that jaunty hat in the morning. Regardless, bearfighting is bloody, dangerous, and a practice that probably still gives Darwin wood in his grave.

The only way to clear up this mishmash of misinformation was to pose as a scarecrow on the path to Houston and waylay Destin Ortego as he skipped along I-10.

"Bearfighter came from a friend of ours in another Louisiana local band called Conquer the Throne," Ortego said. "His dog's name was Bearfighter. One of our members jokingly suggested calling ourselves that and it just kind of stuck. It represents the style and hard-rock sound that we aim for."

A dog? They named their band after a dog... admittedly the coolest name for a dog we've ever heard, but still, a dog? Well, if it was good enough for Indiana Jones I suppose it should be good enough for a group of gifted growlers from neighboring Louisiana. Wait a minute? Do they even have bears in Louisiana?

Turns out there are. The Louisiana Black Bear is a subspecies of the American Black Bear, characterized by its long, narrow, flat skull and huge molars. That means that someone got in close enough to the damn thing to have an errant scientific thought about its teeth before somehow getting away. Or they examined a corpse. Either points to the existence of real-life bearfighters. Our boys and their trusty canine companion, perhaps?

As long as we had Ortego in a query-answering kind of mood - as well as the fact that we didn't know how to get down off the pole - we might as well learn a few bearfighting techniques. After all, the American Black Bear wanders pretty frequently into this end of Texas.

"The best way to fight a bear is to just straight jackknife him in the face... and pray that it worked," he advised.

Surprisingly, this technique is not without its merits. In 2003 a Canadian named John Hirsch took on a 200-lb. black bear with a 3.5" knife in his backyard while checking on the turkeys he was raising. The bear charged, and Hirsch retaliated by stabbing it three times in the chest and once in the neck. The bear ended the fight with a broken skull, a severed tongue, and a bad case of death. Hirsch had some scratches and a ripped T-shirt.

So maybe us questioning Bearfighter was foolish all along. Clearly the motivated human is a match for the mighty bruin. And hey, maybe we could enlist Bearfighter and their skills against the certainty that members of Lions of Tsavo will attempt to gnaw our delicious meat from our bones. Oh it's going to happen.

Ortego said that they were just too busy rocking to serve as our personal bodyguard, but he did offer to accompany us on the road back to Houston in hopes that we could ask Mayor Annise Parker for one. With that, he lifted us from the pole and we skipped down the highway, singing a jaunty tune while Ortego's little dog yapped at our feet.


Bearfighter (n): 1. One who fights bear. 2. A hard rock band from south-central Louisiana. 3. A Wizard of Oz joke that went on way too long.

Bearfighter plays Walter's Friday, May 13 with Born Again Virgins, American Fangs, and SaySaySay.

Follow Rocks Off on Facebook and on Twitter at @HPRocksOff.

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