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Love them or hate them, tribute bands aren't going anywhere soon. In fact, they seem to be multiplying, as if Guitar Hero and karaoke machines weren't enough to stymie their spread. Here are 20 musical acts that pay homage to another band (or sometimes two bands!) with their punning names and goofy gimmicks. If they don't make you smile, they may make you cringe.
Some tribute bands spring up after a much-loved artist's death, and some spring up when the much-loved artist merely habitually cancels shows. This London band's hook is that it's more reliable than the original. So if you don't have the jumping offstage and punching fans, the crack smoking, crying and anorexia, it's only Maybe Winehouse.
Watch Maybe Winehouse Perform Live
Here's a lesson in using Westerners' Asiatic exoticism against them. The name "Buddhist Priest" is actually a bad joke your dad would make, but the Hawaiian metal tribute band's Eastern references pacify any violent reaction you would justifiably have. You know you love your yoga, orientalist.
There's the great jazz tradition of taking other musicians' songs and making them your own, and then there's the tribute band tradition of playing someone else's songs in an entirely unrelated genre. You know, 'You Shook Me All Night Long' played with a mouth harp and a mandolin by genuine hillbillies from Tennessee. They love it in England.
Watch Hayseed Dixie Perform Live
Many will call a tribute band pathetic. Write your own freaking music, nimrods, they may say. But wouldn't you rather attend a bat mitzvah where Seattle's Weener were performing than go to an actual Ween show? But those are just our relentlessly postmodern tastes.
Looks like things haven't changed too much in Portland, Ore., seeing that little city is producing bands like this, "Portland's only all-male Go-Go's tribute band." With a name like that and a concept to back it up, these guys redefine sticking it to The Man. In skirts!
We doubt that these UK performers do a better version of 'You Oughta Know' than what you'd find at an 11-year-old girls' sleepover, but until someone makes time travel affordable, we'll have our nostalgia served lukewarm with a name to match.
There may not be anything more not punk-rock than a punk tribute band. Except if it's a punk tribute band from London doing Abba à la the Ramones. Those shows must really be terrifying: Ginger ale everywhere, the floor strewn with Cheez Puffs, Grandma and all her friends getting their constitutionals on the dance floor ...
Watch Gabba Perform Live
We were in a bar where a familiar album was playing, but all the songs sounded just slightly off, but we couldn't put our finger on why. The bartender whispers, "All tribute bands. And I got it on iTunes, only 89 cents a song!" Get London's Fillers -- like the original, only cheaper.
We can't help but wonder about an active band's relationship to its ardent imitators. In the case of the mysterious aRe wE theM?, we can only imagine Michael Stipe puppeteering, à la 'Being John Malkovitch,' some college boys somewhere near Liverpool. Or making a quick phone call to have those pretenders eliminated.
They bill themselves as "the most accurate tribute to Loverboy," and these lads from Largo, Fla., claim they started their band to seduce "Larry's sister," who listens only to bad covers of boy bands. Suddenly the intention of this whole subgenre of music becomes crystal clear.
Reasons why New York's all-female tribute to Led Zep is better than the original include breasts and not selling their souls to the devil to become great musicians. These gals have seemingly made their deal with a lesser imp, hence avoiding all those icky personal tragedies that have plagued the fellas.
While some might call Noel Gallagher's assessment of No Way Sis as the second best band in the world narcissistic, we call it generous. Had the Scottish Oasis lasted into this century, their lead singer might have gotten punched in the face, too, or at least lightly tapped on the shoulder.
If this band were to live up to their name, they'd rig a tube from a liposuction clinic that pumped the excess fat onto the stage, and they'd dollop it onto a catapult, topping each scoop with a gob of steaming mayonnaise, and they'd shoot those pungent blobs right into the crowd. Instead, they play Sabbath songs in Vancouver.
It's a wonder most tribute bands don't get sued. In 2005, when Milwaukee's finest Beatles/Metallica mash-up group received a cease-and-desist order from the owner of the Beatles' song catalog, Sony/ATV Music, it was none other than good guy Lars Ulrich who stepped in on Beatallica's behalf. All parties came to an agreement, so now Beatallibangers everywhere can enjoy songs like 'A Garage Dayz Nite' and 'All You Need Is Blood.'
You know, these blokes, who live closer to Jersey Classic than New Jersey, could've rhymed their name with anchovy. And done some kind of fish dance. Could've even made it a Phish/Bon Jovi mash-up with a name like that. Canned fish is bad for you because of the mercury -- could've even thrown in some Queen. Way to go, guys. Way to go.
Given the gay male population's pivotal role in the rise of Madonna, it's surprising these boys from San Francisco didn't get together sooner and make it official. Our only critique of this testosterone-heavy homage to the Material Girl is its lack of vogue-ing. Hello, ladies, that was Madonna covering you!
This British punk oufit performing versions of the Irish boy bands hits makes you wonder: What is punk music all about? It was Iggy Pop who said the Stooges were just taking what people wanted to hear and throwing it back in their faces. Either Boyzone has an oppressive following, or boy rhymes pretty easy with oi.
Wasn't 'Bat Out of Hell' already a tribute to the 'Rocky Horror Picture Show'?
And the gimmick of the decade goes to the Misfats of Portland, Ore.: They're overweight and they change all the words of the Misfits songs to be about food ('I Turned Into a Martian' becomes 'I Turned Into a Lard Ass'). They disbanded in 2008, but fun this big has to have a short shelf life.
The lead singer of this band lived in Seattle in the 1990s and heard about a band called the Foo Fighters. He grew out his beard and perfected his voice to sound exactly like Dave Grohl's, dressed like him and played all his songs. It's not a remake of 'Single White Female,' it's a Foo Fighters tribute band!