A friend of mine recently turned me on to a jangly indie rock outfit from Ohio that goes by the (I’m assuming) fairly tongue-in-cheek moniker of SPORTS. It did get me thinking about a phenomenon I’ve noticed more and more as I’ve grown older. Namely, the topic of conversation has shifted from basement shows, amps and the pains of DIY tours to baseball scores, cursing our starting rotation and whether or not Teddy Bridgewater is the real deal.
I think you can chalk up a lot of this to me not staying as punk as 17 year old me would have hoped, but I think there’s something innately similar between watching sports and watching punk shows. There’s a feeling of belonging, of history and a tradition and of constantly believing in the underdog.
With that said, it’s also funny to name your band after a sports thing. I personally have named two of my bands in this fashion, one being my highschool folk-punk band “Gramatica!”, named after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Argentinian placekicker, Martin Gramatica. He led them to a 48-21 rout of the Oakland Raiders in the Super Bowl my senior year of highschool. The other being “NHL,” an oft-dormant 80s-hardcore band that I play in from time to time with members of Apocalypse Meow and Tower. We’ve decided that NHL actually stands for “Nine Hundred Lions” or “Nude Harold Lloyd” depending on the day, how much we’ve been drinking and what kind of pizza we ate for dinner.
So, in order to not feel so alone in this cold and desolate world, I went out and tracked down some other bands who wear their love of sports on their sleeves:
It sounds like it might be a disease, or maybe one of the weird Latin names that dudes in Norwegian black metal bands give to themselves, is actually the name of everyone’s favorite super-buff football referee, Ed Hochuli. Edhochuli the band is from Pittsburgh and make riffy, screamy hardcore with pretty tight names like, “Pizza Party at the Castle (We Totally Won)” and “Sir, I’ve Been Observing You for Five Minutes and You Have Yet to Say ‘Whoo!’ Once.”
Ten Yard Fight
These Bostonian knuckleheads are partly responsible for one of the weirdest subgenres in hardcore. Tuff guy straightedge is equally known for shout-along breakdowns and horrible guitar tone as it is for guys wearing workout gear and pumping iron before they go on. What does it have to do with sports? Ten Yard Fight was also the name of an early NES football game and they would rock football gear on stage.
Complex and vaguely mopey emo from Champaign-Urbana, I’ve always thought it was fitting that the guys called their band “American Football” and not just “Football.” “Oh, you mean American Football?” They were one of my favorite bands in highschool and I still dust off their self-titled record when I’m feeling gloomy on a sunny autumn day. The venn diagram of fans of American Football and fans of the NFL has got to be pretty small.
Another emo group, this one more recent. I gotta admit, this band has some serious hooks. Open-chord, girlfriend-going-off-to-college pop punk, plus the drummer sings sometimes, which I’ve always enjoyed. I think this band would’ve been right up there for me if they had existed when I was 17 years old.
What’s with emo bands and sports names? I had admittedly never heard of this band until I started writing this piece. Kinda noisy emo with noodly guitars and half yelled/half sung lyrics. From the punk hotspot of Gainesville, Florida they took on the moniker of Congolese NBA great, Dikembe Mutombo (fun fact, Dikembe Mutombo’s full name is: Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo, thanks Wikipedia!) and they also have a record called “Chicago Bowls” on which all of the song titles are the names of 90s Bulls players made into weed puns like, “Scottie Spliffen” “Luc Bongley” and “Tony Kukush” which is pretty damn tight if you ask me. I think they just missed, “Dankness Rodman.”
I actually toured with this French doom and gloom outfit on their US run in 2009. They are all a bunch of sweethearts and really loved drinking Southern Comfort, smoking cigarettes and getting into trouble. Their name comes from the Dutch soccer player, Marc Overmars who played for Arsenal and Barcelona in the late 90s/early 2000s. Speaking of Dutch soccer players who would make great band names, how come nobody has named a band “Eden Hazard” yet?
There are a whole host of other sports band names, most of which are more obvious, like Nickelback, Yellowcard, Fastball and The Outfield but I figure you’ve probably already heard of them and don’t need me to tell you anymore.
I also was thinking about how good a name “Diamond Dust” (the substance used to keep baseball diamonds dry so they don’t get muddy during games) would be for some kind of space-y disco punk band, and then I found out that there is a band from Vancouver of all places who has already nailed down that moniker. Their guitar player’s name is Craig “Riffer” Hare which is about the coolest Dude-In-A-Canadian-Rock-Band name I can think of, so I guess we’d better lay off.