The first half of Your Band Sucks locked in a five star rating from me. The last third is bogged down in minute information of appeal mostly to dedicated fans. When Jon Fine is speaking more globally he’s telling the tale of a million startup bands in a very specific time and place. He was fortunate enough to have the time and resources to follow his musical ambition while also receiving a college degree.
So many bands reach the minor levels of success that his, Bitch Magnet, did and then fade into obscurity. A few, also like Bitch Magnet, receive a late career revival. For fans of the live rock scene, Fine is short on name dropping and long on evocative scene descriptions. Loved that. Elsewhere things slow down as he tries not to grind axes while also putting forth his side of stories readers may care little about. I imagine in a small van Jon Fine is very hard to take. In the pages of Your Band Sucks he’s an excellent companion. I was reminded of an era lost, a band I never cared much for, and a scene I’d love to experience again.
Hey, I completely agree with myself. Here’s the deal – Jon Fine is That Guy from New Jersey. There are a lot of people I’ve met from New Jersey, no disrespect to that undervalued state, but only a narrow number fit the type. Loudly opinionated, prone to random disagreement, eager to smooth over social discomfort with something like “But I got results, yea??” instead of “We should have tried it your way, I’m sorry.”
According to Fine’s retelling, Bitch Magnet’s that band. Art over commerce. If the crowd loves a song cut it from the list. Never satisfy the customer, because then you’re just a business. Part of the scene before Steve Albini became a hushed reference, Fine brings alive a specific moment in American rock history. Is he prone to romanticizing? Sure. We’ve already established who he is.
When he asserts we dressed in oversize faded rock shirts and ripped jeans as an anti-fashion move I just laughed. We had a look because we were making a statement with our clothes, which is the very definition of fashion. It wasn’t accidental that a generation woke up and pulled on the same things. I’m roughly Fine’s contemporary, if a few years older, and this was our second major music wave. We came of age as punk was winding down and refused to sign on for the pop resurgence. Overall, the disagreements I had reading Your Band Sucks are the type you have over a beer in the club, not in the street while your friends hold you back. We’re old enough now that it’s time to write down our history, and Jon Fine does an excellent job with his.