8:30 p.m. Tuesday
State Theatre, Falls Church
When you first hear that Flickerstick got a record deal after winning a VH1 contest, you might be tempted to dismiss the band as some lame modern twist on the Monkees. But this Dallas-born quintet plays genuine meat-and-potatoes rock, and the members didn't eat bugs or win silly games on a deserted island to reach the studio goal. As the triumphant participant in the 16-episode reality series, "Bands on the Run," Flickerstick paid its dues. The band just happened to have millions of rock fans watching it do so.
Flickerstick and three other unsigned acts were followed for eight weeks as they traveled the United States in authentic road-warrior style -- a clunky van, cheap hotel rooms, dingy clubs. Cameras watched as the various musical groups sold merchandise and tickets, sometimes resorting to rather desperate means to win audiences. After the economic results were tallied, live showcases allowed music fans and industry experts to judge the competitors' musical efforts. When the dust settled on this strange amalgam of "Survivor" and "Star Search," Flickerstick was the last band standing.
The television series won an Emmy nomination in the nonfiction program (reality) category. The band won $50,000 cash, twice that amount in musical equipment, a showcase in front of major record label execs and a professionally shot music video that was guaranteed VH1 exposure.
If all that sounds like a rock-and-roll fairy tale, it's not necessarily one with a happily-ever-after ending. Flickerstick rerecorded its independently released debut CD, "Welcoming Home the Astronauts," with sonic wizard Tom Lord-Alge (Weezer, Blink-182, Marilyn Manson) remixing the tracks. The emotional power ballad "Smile" was released as a single and a poignant video. And then, like many other bands, Flickerstick found that moderate sales, reasonable reviews and a TV-bred fan base weren't enough in these days of platinum sales or death. Though the band still has a spiffy Web site (www.flickerstick.com) festooned with Epic Records logos, it has been dropped from the label. Its upcoming CD, "Causing a Catastrophe-Live," can be ordered directly from the band's Web site.
So, just as in those "Bands on the Run" days, you can root for Flickerstick all over again. The members have returned to the same thing they were doing five years ago as a young band on the highly competitive "Deep Ellum" Texas scene -- writing, singing, touring and playing their hearts out. Good for them.
-- Marianne Meyer
The State Theatre is at 220 N. Washington St., a block north of Broad Street (Route 7). The theater holds about 800 people, including approximately 140 table seats for dining on the main floor and 200 theater-style seats in the balcony. The rest is standing (or dancing) room. Admission is $12; audience members 18 to 21 pay an additional $3 security fee at the door. A photo ID is required. The venue's informative hotline is 703-237-0300, or visit its Web site (www.thestatetheatre.com).
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