Don't Call Me Daughter

April 16, 1994. Airing on this day was a landmark episode of Saturday Night Live that featured Emilio Estevez promoting D2: The Mighty Ducks Pearl Jam in support of their second album, Vs. To illustrate just how big the band was at the time, SNL musical guests customarily perform twice, but Pearl Jam played three times. I recorded these performances on a trusty VHS tape and watched them frequently.

Meanwhile, I was attending Centerville Junior High, and the annual Battle of the Bands assembly was coming up. Junior high being what it is, the event was essentially a popularity contest that also involved some lip-syncing. But the prize was the unreal sum of $50, so I convinced my friend Evan that we should enter.

Armed with an impressive flannel shirt collection that my mom added upon every Christmas (Thanks, annual Eddie Bauer outlet sale!), we would lip sync to Pearl Jam's "Daughter," and Battle of the Bands glory would be ours. I don't recall giving our band an official name, but for the purposes of this post I'm going to call us "Pearl Sham."

In the name of rehearsing, I spent several nights in Evan's basement hanging out and watching the SNL tape. Evan took on the role of Eddie Vedder. Even though he was the frontman, his job was really pretty easy. Stand in one spot. Never smile. Look down during the vocal breaks and head bang intensely. Meanwhile, I borrowed my brother's guitar and based my performance on the jumpy bass player, Jeff Ament. (There were two other members of Pearl Sham, but I have since forgotten names and roles.)

When we showed up at the after-school rehearsal a few days before the assembly, we were shocked to discover some bands on the bill who were actually playing their own instruments. Suddenly we were reminded that our real instrument was the trombone, and that we weren't actually popular. So when our turn on stage came we all felt a little self conscious. It didn't help matters when I thought I heard other participants snickering backstage as I played air guitar with reckless abandon.

The day of the event soon arrived. We had our costumes and props. My mom even bought some dry ice for added showmanship. However, in the pressure of the moment, Evan refused to go on stage. I briefly tried to talk him into it, reminding him of the prize money, but he was adamant. When the time came to lay down our cards, Pearl Sham folded. As it turns out, ideas that sound good when you're goofing around in your buddy's basement don't always translate when you have to execute them in front of the entire school.

That night I drowned my sorrows in some homemade root beer, made with the unused dry ice. But who ultimately ended up winning Battle of the Bands, you ask? The group that lip-synced Boyz II Men.


Ike said...

I remember this like it was yesterday. I was the co-manager of a band called "Procrastination." They were a bunch of my friends in a real band who played real instruments & had an original song - "Box of Thought," that wasn't half bad for a bunch of Jr. High kids. I remember we were all shocked when we lost to a bunch of lip-syncing thugs. Stupidest Battle of the Bands ever.

Krissy said...

When Dave told me this story before posting it, I could hardly stand how much it made me cringe in embarrassment. Oh man, junior high is a horrible time.

Kristina Carter said...

Actually laughed out loud

Jess said...

Just reminded me of when we lived at pinnacle did a lip-sync performance to Man of Constant Sorrows.

Dave said...

Maybe "Box of Thought" was too intellectual for the target audience. If Procrastination had written something more visceral along the lines of "I'll Make Love To You," Battle of the Bands glory would have unquestionably been yours.

I still say we totally pwned Justin's group that sang "Lady Marmalade." All they had going for them was one flamboyant theater major.