The way I feel about the ’80s is the same way some people feel about their parents: Yeah, they gave birth to me, but…really? While I’m busy texting and tweeting and surfing the Net on my cell phone, they’re flagging me down in their Dodge Caravan, pointing to their totally clutch IBM 5150. I’m online shopping for dresses, and they’re suggesting I wear some neon taffeta monstrosity with fishnet stockings and a denim jacket on my next date. They’re telling me that MTV used to play music videos, and I’m trying to tell them that it’s the premium source for cheesy reality TV and pregnant teens, and if I wanted to watch music videos, I’d go on YouTube. Sure, I love them, but I’d rather not be seen with them in public.
So, walking into Mulligans on the Blue in Wailea last week was like walking into a mental family reunion. Some people were cold lampin’ with their posse, others were sitting at a table just Pac-Manning the primo food and some other spanglers were ordering another Freddy at the bar. But everyone was listening to the bomdigity music. And, of course, the homefries were puttin’ on the ritz, from guys in itty-bitty running shorts to babes sporting some side-ponytail action.
Also, there were eleven bands/musicians battling for a chance at glory: Vibewell, Soul Package, Sebrina Barron, The Mobius Project, The Unintelligents, Sounds of Addiction, I-nology, Stephanie Lomeli, Minor Setback, Mary Jane Babashoff and Moth. In the preliminaries, there had been more than 30, so this was the cream of the crop. The bands really showcased the diversity of Maui’s music scene, going from roots to rock and reggae to soulful grrrl rock to slamdance and everything in between. Bands were judged heavily on crowd participation, as well as songwriting, originality, performance and, of course, ‘80s attire, in keeping with the evening’s theme.
Not only were these bands battling for glory, but also the chance to have their music careers jump-started with a three-song EP recorded by We Are More Studios, CD cover designed by Scott Johnson of Dogtowne Design, photo shoot with Justine Orr Photography and a chance to open for The Throwdowns on their Kona Brewing Company/Surfrider Foundation Tour on June 12. Judges included musicians Erin Smith and Vince Esquire, as well as MauiTime’s own power couple, Jen and Tommy Russo.
By the end of the night (when people had to be sedated and were already dancing with themselves—lucky no one fought the law) there were only five bands still in the running. Sounds of Addiction, with their easy-going roots vibe; Sebrina Barron and her soulful, cat-stretching-in-the-sunshine vocals; Moth, wielding their mighty axes for a metal meltdown; The Mobius Project, vocalist screeching like Karen O and drummer ready to break stuff; and Minor Setback, trying to prove they can change Maui’s music scene in a major way.
Moth ultimately came out on top, with Sounds of Addiction in second place, but the real winners here were the fans. Each band had its share of loyal followers who hula-hooped, moshed, chanted and sign-waved their hearts out. It wasn’t long until Sharpie-scrawled autographs ran off the fans’ chests like eyeliner and the walls perspired. While seated next to some Addiction addicts, I overheard them saying, “Man—we practiced that chant in the car! We were yelling ‘Addiction!’ at Sports Authority!”
While big hair and bright clothes are definitely not my thing, good music, pumped-up crowds and inspiring musicians definitely are. On this night, Mulligans was filled with one part ’80s freak, one part killer music and all parts awesome. ‘Til the next battle, later days and better lays.