Somewhere between the char-broiled metal of Ozzfest and the souffléd skate-punk of the Warped Tour lies the Buzz Bake Sale where a baker's dozen is 17 and the main food groups are grunge and metal. But while most of its ingredients are derived from those two overdone genres, there are still more flavors at the Bake Sale than at most rock festivals.
This year's Bake Sale may have its share of repeats (Nonpoint, One, Story of the Year) and empty calories (the Fray is the musical equivalent of a cheese strudel), but it's still better than last year's, where the main dish was Korn, everyone got Kottonmouth, and the letter c mysteriously disappeared. Anyway, here's a look at what's coming out of the oven this year and some nutrition info for all you adherents of the rock 'n' roll food pyramid.
Hot Hot Heat: Grunge, 0 g; metal, 0 g; rock, 7 g; pop, 7 g; punk, 5 g; new wave, 5 g; indie hipster food coloring, 8 g.
Indeed, the hottest item in the oven, Canada's princes of dance-inflected post-punk cook up some delightfully grunge-free goodies. It's just a shame that the critics who praised the Heat's so-so debut album decided that its latest disc, Elevator, is inferior. This, of course, means the opposite is true: The songs on Elevator are more memorable, they rock harder, and Steve Bays' vocals aren't half as annoying this time around. Perhaps those critics would rather listen to Staind.
Staind: Grunge, 10 g; metal, 6 g; pop, 4 g; cream filling, 20 g.
At the dawn of the '90s, grunge emerged as a flannel-clad phenomenon, rising up to deliver hair metal a swift kick in its empty head. When Nirvana and Pearl Jam became MTV's "it" boys, grunge fulfilled its duty, letting the kids know there's more to rock than blow jobs and booze that you can rock and be a real person. But if Kurt Cobain were alive to hear the music he helped spawn the post-grunge monotony of alternative metal he'd probably shoot himself all over again. Perhaps the reason alt-metal's so prevalent is that its formula makes for one easy recipe. Betty Crocker couldn't package it any tighter. "But what about Staind?" you ask. I just described them.
Trapt: See Staind.
Art of Dying: See Trapt.
My Chemical Romance: Grunge, 0 g; metal, 1 g; punk, 5 g; goth, 3 g; emo, 4 g; black food dye, 20 g.
Perhaps as penance for desecrating the holy site of the David Bowie/Queen song "Under Pressure," My Chemical Romance and the Used have had a falling out. Fortunately, the Bake Sale gets the better of the two these gothish emo-punks from New Jersey. Don't forget: Flour can also be used as corpse paint.
Morningwood: Grunge, 0 g; metal 0 g; punk, 4 g; new wave, 5 g; sex appeal, 15 g.
Written as two words, morning wood is what men experience after a particularly enjoyable night's sleep. Spelled as one word, though, it's a sex-fueled, indie-rock band from New York City that blends late-'70s power-pop with '80s synth-rock. Or, as the band likes to describe itself, "a monster truck rally having tantric sex with a Bond girl." You'll want two helpings.
Our Lady Peace: Grunge, 2 g; metal, 0 g; rock, 6 g; pop, 10 g; sugar coating, 25 g.
Imagine if Bono baked a chocolate layer cake with grunge frosting around the corners: A nice dessert, but certainly not the main course.
Taproot: Grunge, 5 g; metal, 4 g; punk, 0 g; emo, 9 g; shoegaze, 8 g; screamo, 4 g.
Of all the Bake Sale bands, Taproot is probably best-equipped to satiate the audience's different tastes. But like Our Lady Peace, Taproot isn't a meal in itself; it's more like a platter of finger foods to sample.
Pepper: Grunge, 0 g; metal, 1 g; reggae, 7 g; punk, 6 g; salt, 5 g; pepper, one peck of a lot.
The lone Hawaiian dish on the show's menu, Pepper offers a tasteful mix of reggae, punk, and pop. It's like a well-cooked casserole, browned but not burned and certainly not Socialburned.
Socialburn: Grunge, 7 g; metal, 0 g; rock, 4 g; emo, 10 g; vanilla extract, 15 g.
Remember the Goo Goo Dolls? These guys sure do. Add to that a pinch of Nirvana and a dozen teaspoons of sugar and you've got Socialburn. Palatable, yes. Filling? Only if you're on an all-carb diet.
Sunny Ledfurd: Grunge, 4 g; metal, 0 g; alt-rock, 8 g; rap, 3 g; Budweiser, 2 cases.
What happens when a rap-metal band goes acoustic? You get something along the lines of Dave Matthews meets Smashmouth. Or, simply put, the latest album by Sunny Ledfurd, Toughest Songs on Dirt. That may not sound like essential listening, but it's a big improvement from the band's 2001 album, The White Disk, which sounds like Metallica and Primus in an MC battle. Were this the Buzz Keg Party, these guys would be headlining.
30 Seconds to Mars: Grunge, 2 g; metal, 1 g; emo, 12 g; cheese, 12 g.
Perhaps it's frontman Jared Leto's prior gig as an actor (Fight Club, Requiem for a Dream) that gives his vocal performance all the drama and pretense of a Shakespearean monologue. But that's the sort of stuff kids eat up nowadays. So dig in everyone else is.
The Fray: Grunge, 1 g; metal, 0 g; radio-friendly pop, 20 g; sugar, 0 g; spice, 0 g; artificial sweetener, 25 g.
By far the mellowest Bake Sale band, the Fray is like an American version of Coldplay, but even blander. Adult rock? More like adult community rock, mashed up nice and smooth so even a toothless old coot can swallow it. Which is fortunate, 'cause this stuff's so sugary-sweet, you won't have any teeth left after a few tastes.
Local H: Grunge, 2 g; metal, 1 g; rock, 10 g; band members, 2.
Composed of just two guys, Scott Lucas and Brian St. Clair, Local H is what grunge would sound like if it took a trip back to the '70s. Even the title of the band's latest album, What Ever Happened to P.J. Soles?, is a nod to the era of no-frills rock (Soles played Riff Randell in Rock 'n' Roll High School). Lucas and St. Clair may not be the prototypical Buzz bakers, but they've got one ingredient the other bands don't a song called "Heavy Metal Bakesale." Wait a second... How come they're not headlining?
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