It wasn't supposed to be this way, it really wasn't. You've GOT to believe me, I beg you. But what you're about to read is the first negative review of a Christmas benefit in the history of this fascist construct of white male supremacy called The United States of America. Like I said, though: it wasn't supposed to be this way. "Not So Silent Night" at the Lincoln Theater last Saturday night, I thought, was going to be a program of Christmas music by locals. Fair enough. I was so in the mood that even several days prior I thought without reservation, hey, I don't care who they are or how much they mangle Rudolph The Red -Nosed Oppressed Reindeer, EVERYBODY gets a good review. Everybody. Sort of my personal 'give-back' to the community I abuse the other 50 weeks of the year. Hey, you didn't build that amplifier! I even found one of my Santa hats to wear. I even stuffed my pocket full of candy canes. You know, to give out in moments of joy and love and pre-alcohol-fueld seasonal cheer. The con was that it was a benefit for Music Loves Ohio, an odd name for what is probably a front for some neo-fascist cabal aimed at taking over an entire southern Ohio county and turning it into the Free Republic of Weed. A bigger con was it being hosted by a local magazine whose editor, dressed like a slob for the occasion, got to plug his publication mercilessly. Merry Crassmas, m**********r. But the biggest con was that of the three songs every local band was schedule to play only one had to be of a Christmas nature. Bad. Bad. Bad. The first half-hour of the show, mercifully, was said little kids playing music. Christmas music. The way the baby Jesus, Christmas's number one dee-jay and Christianity's most import music programmer since Lee Abrams made millions telling clueless radio fucks what to play back in the '80s, would have had it. A bunch of rockers from the Fort Hays Complex for Gifted Kids To Bored With Regular School did a couple of really fun Christmas tunes. "Thank you Santa" was a smoker, every 16-year-old on the stage bashing away like School of Rock kids on fire. The electric guitarist stage left was a reincarnated Chris Farley in the energy division as well as boyish bowl cut bangs hiding most of his face accompanied by utterly guileless random fist-pumping. Every time he shot his arm in the air, his fist punctuating a Christmas power chord, this kid looked like he was fulfilling the greatest dream ever. How can you not love that? Token adult, Jeff McGargish and the kids' music teacher, explained one song was a holdover from Stache's old Christmas Trash Fest days. I think it was "Disco Santa" with perfectly placed hand claps and a smart arrangement. Live it to ol' Jeff, even when trashin' the season back in the day he did it with pinache. Kudos, dude-ski. Another group of kids trundled up to do some more Christmas music, just a lot younger and from Reynoldsburg middle schools, I believe. But with steel drums! Awesome! Hearing traditional tunes done by 12-year-olds on steel drums, well, THAT'S what I came for. Didn't expect it but it was adorable. The best part was a little boy sitting in a chair, playing the bass to the steel drums. Except one of the strings was very badly out of tune. So his little two-note pattern sounded like a groaning, angry camel fart. Which made me just absolutely love him and the moment even more. Plus he was wearing a pair of huge glasses and he looked like a little helpless owl, playing an instrument as big as he was, mucking up the mix in the most involuntary but endearing way you could possibly imagine. But the love wouldn't last. When the little kids lined up to be presented an oversized check for $1600, I flashed on Godfather II which opens with Michael Corleone, as part of his becoming a 'straight' business man, is presenting a check to a Utah University for a million dollars. It won't be the last Godfather reference you'll read in this review. Now for the beginning of the end. The big kids portion began with some cover band--a COVER BAND FOR CHRISSAKES--was the first local outfit of the night, joking how they'd been voted third best cover band three years in a row. The Winnie Cooper Band began their three-song shit-set with George Michael's Last Christmas ("I gave you my gerbil but the next day you fed it to the cat") which was covered by Savage Garden which was covered by Taylor Swift which was covered by the Winnie Not Nelson Mandela's Wife's Band. Ugh, gag, hack, kack, caca-caca. Egregiously execrable, in other words. Their other two songs sounded like even more WNCI crap. Then Angela Perley, the Americana-esque local and her band did a song about daddy looking a whole lot like Santa though the arrangement was theirs? I don't know. Didn't have much of a Christmas feel. During the second (non-seasonal) tune she put a saw between her legs and stroked it was a violin bow as she bent it, getting it to sound like a theramin. Which would've been great for, say, Silent Night. And then their third song was some sort of rock 'n' roll thing that was about as seasonal as a car bomb in front on the White House lawn in front of the First Christmas Tree. The Post Coma Network followed. They were the straw that broke this Santa-hat-wearin'-camel's-back. The PCN are led by some mini-Moog-type-playing "front man" who had the vibe of one very uptight, very emotionally constipated human French poodle man who spent his life regretting not having been born in time to be in Spandau Ballet. I have no idea what Christmas song they played. Post-goth synth-freaks who dress like George Michael's partner (what's-his-forgotten-face?) and sound like Christmas as an emotion they simply wouldn't consider, what's not to like? I couldn't take it. I couldn't take the idiot emcee who plugged his real estate magazine between every band. I couldn't take the crap music I can hear 364 nights of the year anywhere. I couldn't take the large threesome sitting in front of me who spoke at conversational voice levels throughout the entire show including the little kids ABOUT ALL THINGS OHIO STATE. I went with the best intentions. I went Santa hatted. I went with a pocketful of candy canes to give out. I went fully intending to write a good line about every local act. But like Michael Corleone in Godfather III, no matter how hard I try to go straight "THEY KEEP PULLING ME BACK IN!" You, world, are to blame. You made me the Grinch. I wasn't born the Grinch. You made me one. I just think a Christmas program with mostly non-Christmas music is career-plugging bullshit. It's just one more crass commercialization and exploitation of a season that used to mean far deeper things, things so human you didn't have to be a Christian to celebrate. The Grinch came early this year. And I've still got a pocketful of candy canes and when I have none real will be the joy.

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