Celebrating the Battle of the Ad Bands

By Ti Published on .

To the list of musical moments that left blown brain cells in their wake at the temple of rock and filth CBGB, history may now add a hardcore fiddle-rap rendition of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," by Miami's Ironic Trucker Hat. The band took top prize at the first ever Battle of the Ad Bands, an event organized by New York music, sound and post shop Fluid and co-sponsored by Creativity. The show brought together 10 bands made up, to varying degrees, of ad agency personnel from around the country. Bands played to a packed house at CBGB on Wednesday, Sept. 24, as music fans, band supporters and the industry curious turned out in force to see and hear what multitalented agency creatives and producers do in their spare time.

With its impressive musical skill, stage presence and command of pop cultural zeitgeist, Crispin Porter + Bogusky-backed Trucker Hat won over the crowd and the BoAB jury, which included included Maria Milito of Q-104 FM, Smithereen's drummer Dennis Diken, Entertainment Weekly senior editor Jason Adams and Jim Hanas, editor of the Creativity E-Mail and AdCritic.com. The judges awarded second prize to the melodic power pop combo Poster Child, from Merkley Newman Harty, and third place to Macho Grande, FCB/New York's answer to both Iggy Pop and the B-52s.

Other musical highlights included MRA Group's Crankdaddy, who performed live for the first time at the event and who kicked out some heart warmingly authentic punk raunch. Closing the show, Wunderman's Bon Appetit offered up an eerie AC/DC cover sound and the bad attitude to match.

But the night belonged to Trucker Hat, which whipped the crowd into a noticeably enthusiastic state appropriating string-inflected favorites, including "Come On Eileen" and "Live and Let Die," as well as a rendition of "Under Pressure," which nodded to both the Vanilla Ice and the Bowie/Mercury versions. Lyrically and musically, the band twisted the classic tunes to their warped purpose, morphing at one point mid-song into the violent "Now you do what they told you" slice of Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name Of." Manager Alex Bogusky orchestrated the transformation of six agency creatives into a rock/rap machine, which delivered a powerful, and weird, performance. Copywriter Dustin Ballard entered the club as an impossibly fresh-faced innocent, then took the stage in face paint, satin top hat and dog collar, looking somehow hurt and dangerous at the same time. Frontman and agency music producer Bill Meadows' vocals ranged from remarkable rapid-fire rap to solid singing to rock god screeching without faltering.

CP+B sent 20 if its staff to the show, many of whom sported the band's eponymous ironically-fashionable-in-its-uncoolness headwear. "All of us were surprised at the incredible performances by the bands, especially given the fact that for several of the bands, it was their first appearance before a live audience - and at a rock palace like CBGB," says Fluid's David Shapiro. "For many of them, it was a dream come true. I was really impressed by the original music performed, as well as the innovative covers of popular songs. There was a lot of talent up there."

The event raised $10,000 in support of music in public schools. "We will definitely be doing it again next year," says Shapiro.

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