Tonight: Battle of the Bar Bands at House of Blues

A more cutthroat distant cousin to the rock/soul package tours of the late '50s and '60s, "Battle of the Bands" competitions were never really in style - except maybe in the Sunset Strip hair-metal heyday of the mid-'80s - but they never really go out of style either. Tonight at House of Blues, the old BOB warhorse gets trotted out once again, with an interesting local twist: six Houston groups will meet in six-string combat to determine Houston's best bar band. Winners get a one-year membership to HOB's super-plush Foundation Room.

Rocks Off will be helping judge this little soiree, so he thought he'd offer a little preliminary introduction to tonight's competitors. Note to bands: Bribery is unseemly, but if you absolutely must...

Runaway Sun: By-the-numbers blues-rock with better-than-average chops. (7 p.m.)

Spin Cycle: Cover band whose repertoire spans Billy Joel to Social Distortion, an alternately intriguing and terrifying prospect. (7:40 p.m.)

Jud Johnson Band: Jam-rockers - seriously, one song is just called "Jam" - touted on MySpace page as "the next Dave Matthews Band." See above. (8:20 p.m.)

Thunderpants: Costumed cover band with an awesome name that might be tough to live up to. Often perform shirtless. (9 p.m.)

Kozmic Pearl: Janis Joplin tribute band; singer has better pipes than 30 Rock's "Janet Joppler," anyway. (9:40 p.m.)

Low Man's Joe: Hard-rocking foursome that's had a shot or two of Bon Jovi's bad medicine. (10:20 p.m.)

Hmmm. For various reasons, Rocks Off can imagine knocking back a few to all these bands. Guess we'll have to see which one(s) can bring it live...

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