As with the first round of the Road to Bonnaroo series, during which The Features reportedly won their trip to Manchester by the narrowest of margins, this Monday's second installment was a virtual toss-up at night's end, as people wandered around the floor of Mercy Lounge and bumping into each other. "Who'd you vote for?" people kept asking, with sort of half-worried looks on their faces. We like to keep that kind of thing to ourselves, but all the public displays of indecision were entertaining.
Most everyone we asked named one of the last three bands to play: AutoVaughn, How I Became the Bomb or The Protomen. The increasing shit-facedness of all involved might have influenced the voting, but that's just a theory, and a shit-faced theory at that. The fact that The Protomen destroyed a guitar and then took turns autographing its splintered remains for a gaggle of giddy fans after the show ought to tell you that they closed things out in style. And we've never even played, uh, Mega Man Man 2.5 or whatever. Here's what we can remember of the rest of the night.
How I Became the Bomb did what they do, and it was good. A freshly repaired keytar enabled a "Secret Identity" finale, to which the crowd responded in kind. Things were getting pretty fuzzy by this point, though, and our heads were still ringing from AutoVaughn's set, which seemed like it would be somewhere between the jackhammer and the airplane taking off on one of those "this is how fucked your hearing is going to be" charts.
Pico vs. Island Trees kicked out the lascivious jams, and we're pretty sure all their songs were about how they wanted to get naked with naked girls and lie down without clothes like hot, hot monkeys. We couldn't tell what And the Relatives were singing about a lot of the time, though there was a kitchen sink in there, and probably everything else, too, 'cause that's what people usually mean when they mention a kitchen sink. Anyway, they rocked.
KS Rhoads was way slide-bluesier than we remembered, but we are awfully forgetful. (We should mention here that the place was packed, it felt like a Saturday night, and we couldn't tell if that was Erin McCarley onstage with Rhoads.) We missed a good chunk of Reno Bo's set, but what we could hear from the smoking section sounded patently inoffensive and a little bit rootsy, though we kinda hate the word "rootsy."
And finally, the first band. The bass player for Mike's Pawn Shop was wearing some sort of headset with antennae sticking out of it. (We hope he knows about the switch to digital that's happening in June.) The band was, uh, energetic, to say the least, and as someone near us put it, "If this was The Road to the Warped Tour, I'd vote for them."
Update: According to the Mercy Lounge website, The Protomen won "by a landslide." (But they didn't do any Fleetwood Mac covers.) In a three-way tie for second: How I Became the Bomb, Pico Vs. Island Trees & AutoVaughn. In a two-way tie for third: And the Relatives & Mike's Pawn Shop.