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Beat Street
By Todd S. Inoue

Playa Hating:
Nobody won at this Battle of the Bands

I HATE Battle of the Bands contests. They represent the pay-to-play concert at its most divisive. And how can you pit a punk band against a funk band against a punk-funk band when different aesthetics apply to each? A recent Battle of the Bands reinforced my distaste for the whole notion. The event, scheduled for July through September at the Cactus Club in downtown San Jose, was canceled after three weeks, with everyone pointing fingers. The bands and club blame the promoter; the promoter blames the bands and club.

Each of the bands submitted a $25 entry fee to now-defunct Studio Time Music, a musical equipment and recording business in San Jose. The first show covered costs. The next two shows lost money, and the promoter and then-owner of Studio Time, Jim Aruta, pulled the plug. The event was marred further when a fight between a judge and disgruntled fan broke out after a show.

"It was a total disaster," Aruta said. "The bands didn't show up to some of the shows; the club didn't publicize it enough. We were losing $250 a day. I would try to stay on top of the bands. We had to make $500 a night. Bands were showing up and not bringing anybody in. They wanted to get up and play and be in the limelight and were bitching and complaining."

Calvin Trippett, the booker for the Cactus Club, said that Aruta rented the club for $500, and that some of the bands he booked came from as far as Sonoma with little or no draw. "After the third one, he took off and bailed," Trippett said. "The fourth one, we let the ones who showed up play." According to Trippett, it was Aruta who was hard to reach. "The bands weren't motivated, and that's what the main problem was," Trippett said. "The bands couldn't get a hold of him." Aruta admits that the closure of Studio Time did distract from his duties as a Battle of the Bands magnate. He also maintains, however, that he won't part with the bands' entrance fees, even though a clear winner was not declared.

"Nobody made money on this," said Aruta, who has since returned to his original line of work, construction. "They all got to play, and it cost me money out of my pocket. They entered into a contest; when they didn't do what they had to do, there was no more to go on. I stopped it. You can't beat a dead horse."

Trippett believes that Aruta should give the money back to the bands. Tommy, a member of Floyd's Ordeal, one of the participating groups, felt that the event could have benefited from better organization and that the band's $25 entrance fee is long gone. "I'm not worried about it," Tommy said. "It's not worth making a stink over. I'm always up for doing stuff like Battle of the Bands. It's not about winning, it's more about getting music out to people who haven't heard us."

About Time

BAM finally took notice of the South Bay, an area the magazine has traditionally overlooked, when it scheduled its celebratory block party in the name of the 20th Annual Bay Area Music Awards (the BAMMIES) in San Jose's downtown entertainment district. The block party is set for Oct. 13, noon­7pm. The area set to be closed off is similar to SoFA Festival. In addition to food and crafts, there will be performances by Salmon, Smashmouth, Soda, Cottonhead, the Mermen, Sy Klopps Blues Band and Dork.

Cat's Cradle

Campbell's favorite punk rock-record store--Pirate Cat--is throwing a show on Sunday (Sept. 29) with Noothgrush, Dead Bodies Everywhere, Jenny Piccolo and Ringwurm. The music starts at 2pm; the address is 14 N. Central Ave., Campbell. Also, Pirate Cat recently confirmed an appearance by Dub Narcotic, featuring Calvin Johnson from Beat Happening and legendary K Records on Oct. 29. ... A reminder about that free ska show on Friday (Sept. 27) at the Milpitas Community Center (on Calaveras Boulevard behind city hall) with Slow Gherkin, the Plumbers, Spys Like Us and the Shrinks. The event kicks off at 6pm. The organizers recently pushed for a teen center and the Milpitas City Council approved funding. Congrats.

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From the September 26-October 2, 1996 issue of Metro

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