Song Fight! Is 20 Years Old!!!

Announcements of changes or happenings in the Song Fight universe.
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Re: Song Fight! Is 20 Years Old!!!

Post by fluffy »

Not quite a native, but I grew up in Albuquerque from 1981 to 1995, and lived mostly in Las Cruces from 1995 to 2004 (for college and grad school).
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Re: Song Fight! Is 20 Years Old!!!

Post by frankie big face »

fluffy wrote:
Sat Jun 20, 2020 11:45 pm
And I was welcomed back with open arms. (I still remember Frankie’s response: “magenta! Welcome back you crazy broad!”)
The internet was a weird time back then. Everyone had to learn how to behave, including me. I'm almost there.

Twenty years, wow! I came on the scene in March of 2001, fight #14 ("On a Line"). JB and I were friends living in the same city and started hanging out together, talking about songwriting and stuff. I had just heard an interview with Fountains of Wayne on Fresh Air and they were talking about challenging each other to write songs from titles they scribbled on napkins in diners late at night. (I remember "She's Got a Problem" was one of those songs.) John and I started giving each other titles and challenging each other to write a song. I remember each of us writing songs with titles like "Nova Scotia," "Bee Sting," "Third Person," and "The Ballad of Mom and Pop." Then John called me and said he found Song Fight! and the rest is history, I suppose.

We became online friends with MC Frontalot and the boys from Duboce Triangle and started talking about doing a live show. We said if they organized it in San Francisco, we would come and perform. And we did! The following year (2002) we hosted it ourselves in sleepy little Lancaster, PA. Sometime around 2003, JBB, ADD and I produced the 3-CD AlbumFight. Later on, I met my future (now ex-)wife through SongFight. Over the years, I've attended at least four weddings with multiple SongFight attendees (including my own to my second—and final!—wife). It's hard to imagine a website having more of an impact on one's life than this one has on mine. Thank god for Narbotic and drew and Gil Sans and all of those crazy pioneers who got this thing going. And many many thanks to JB and Spud for saving it when it looked like it might collapse.

Think of all the other 20-year-old internet things you're still doing. Exactly. This is a really unique and special thing and I'm proud to be so strongly associated with it.
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Re: Song Fight! Is 20 Years Old!!!

Post by Lunkhead »

I'm really enjoying all these stories and notes. Thanks a lot for sharing y'all.

I forgot to say how I came upon Song Fight. I was also an Exploding Dog fan, and was listening to Collin's songs on narbotic.com, and reading Diesel Sweeties. I'm pretty sure that's how I got to Song Fight.

My first fight was "Bullseye Girl" as "Sappy Lunkhead". I picked "Lunkhead" by opening a random page of a Scrabble dictionary and picking a random word. I joined the boards and Ken noticed I was in Berkeley too. We met at a fantastic old Berkeley pub The Albatross. Ken happened to have organized a Song Fight folks concert shortly after that so I went. It was so super weird and awkward showing up not knowing anybody else at all. I remember the strange feeling of meeting people I knew from the boards who knew who I was from my "band name". I met Erin that night. She and Ken had met a while before that in San Diego before Ken moved up to Berkeley (I think?). He'd asked her to sing backups in his band. She had invited her friend Dave to go. Randomly I had actually met Dave. I had met a woman singer over Craig's List a couple years earlier, very shortly after I'd moved out to the Bay Area. She and I had met Dave over Craig's List and a drummer and had a little band, up until the singer abruptly left town and dropped off the face of the earth. So Dave and I reconnected. Coincidentally Mo was moving to China soon after that which left Ken without a guitarist for his band. He asked if I wanted to play guitar for him and I said "Yeah!". Then Ken and Erin and Dave and I wound up forming Loyalty Day. Etc. etc. One more weird related thing. Several years ago Erin started singing in a women's choir. The first time I went to one of their gigs, one of the other women singers looked SO familiar to me. By the end of the show I had realized it was the singer I'd first met in the Bay Area back in 2000 that I'd played in a band with with Dave of Loyalty Day. That was weird!
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Re: Song Fight! Is 20 Years Old!!!

Post by Lunkhead »

Oh yeah, I meant to post that I added "Twenty Years Ago" fights to the homepage. I also made a slight adjustment to the layout of the anniversary fights to try to keep them from taking up so much space in the right hand column now that there are four sets of fights there.
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Re: Song Fight! Is 20 Years Old!!!

Post by gizo »

Lunkhead wrote:
Tue Jun 23, 2020 8:02 pm
Oh yeah, I meant to post that I added "Twenty Years Ago" fights to the homepage. I also made a slight adjustment to the layout of the anniversary fights to try to keep them from taking up so much space in the right hand column now that there are four sets of fights there.
Woo hoo!! 22 months to go until a song I lost comes up in the rotation!

Also - it looks great. You're a shining star
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Re: Song Fight! Is 20 Years Old!!!

Post by fluffy »

So here’s some technical details as I remember them; this was of course a long time ago so I might be getting some of it wrong but I’m going to the best of my ability here.

Originally the fight format wasn’t open; Narbotic would invite people to join in and it was just a few of his friends. Eventually other people started asking if they could join in too, and he made it so that anyone could submit. I think Zero to Phantom was the first open-invite fight.

The original voting system was ridiculously insecure, not that it mattered; I think Narbotic just manually counted how many people clicked on each song’s voting link. Eventually he added a very basic form submission (which possibly just worked the same way? I recall the URL just being like “voted.html?vote=5” or something like that) and the order wasn’t randomized and there wasn’t any IP address checking or the like. The vote counts also weren’t public at all, although at one point he started posting graphs with proportional vote tallies. Then a bunch of the nerdier among us used that to reverse-engineer the actual vote counts and so he stopped doing that, because he didn’t want that to actually be known for some reason. Oops.

Originally the fight times didn’t overlap. Narbotic would post a title, then eventually™ he would post the songs, and the songs would be voted on, then at some point later he’d post a new title after the winner was announced.

Also back then, because webhosting was expensive and everyone was on dialup, the songs were limited to 64kbps mono. This wasn’t actually enforced and a few people snuck in higher-bitrate or stereo songs now and then (and when that happened people on the boards would complain loudly because it was “cheating”).

Also “the boards” were just a single free-for-all section on the Dumbrella forums. There was no moderation at all. Prefight and post-fight threads weren’t really a thing until sometime in 2001. I want to say the first proper review thread was either Shipwreck or Eternity Without You, and even then it was only one or two review posts and a lot of random chatter. I do remember Shipwreck was my first song to get reviewed, and The Shortcakes said something like, “one of the shortcakes looked confused and the other one wriggled her nose.”

A bunch of the current forum stuff is homages to ancient jokes from back then. For example, the reason all new members get the rank “a new player” was because someone going by the name of Jenhere showed up and posted a new thread entitled “A NEW PLAYER?!” which was spam for a new mp3 player, which was probably full of spyware or something. After she kept on posting a few times and people flamed her for it, she explained that she was paid to post marketing ads to forums because she needed it to pay for culinary school, which wasn’t exactly a great justification, and she had no interest in Song Fight! or anything like it. She felt entitled to use the boards as her own personal marketing dumping ground, which everyone resented. I think she’s one of the few people to get banned (or maybe she just eventually gave up and went away).

“Monkey Business” used to just be a single thread that got very, very long. (I think it might have been called “Monkey Affairs” originally?)

One fun tradition from the early days was every time a forum thread spilled onto a new page, someone would try to make the first post on the page “Boing!” I think that was started by Doctor Worm. I remember that in the Fool In The Middle prefight thread someone started a new page that wasn’t “Boing!” and Frankie posted a lament about how things were different and we were forgetting our traditions, to which I replied, “Things change” as my way of delurking. (This is what prompted his welcome-back message, and I knew things were going to be okay.)

Coverfight used to have its own separate site, with its own weird-ass voting system designed by Stubs of Octothorpe. It had two ways of voting, “favorite” and “good/bad.” This would lead to weird results where sometimes a cover would be liked the most but would still come in last place because it wasn’t everyone’s favorite. This result is what eventually led to the multi-voting system we have today.

When the N Years Ago fights have multiple titles, that’s because at one time we actually had so many active participants that there would be too many songs to comfortably listen through and vote! So Spud split the fights up into different numbers of titles based on what seemed reasonable at the time. The way this was implemented was the main page was literally copied multiple times and the index page would randomly redirect to one of the subsites. This led to all sorts of “fun” down the road. To this day we still have a bunch of placeholder color URLs since there were a bunch of random things that linked to specific colors as if they were the site as a whole. One such thing was the book, “Think you’re the only one?” which was a catalog of Internet communities at the time. I still have my copy of it. I suspect Song Fight! is the only site in the entire book which still works.

And this site is old! Google was barely a thing when it launched, and most people were using Yahoo! or Altavista for their web searches. Facebook and YouTube didn’t exist yet. Heck, MySpace didn’t exist yet. LiveJournal was still brand-new. This site, until relatively recently, had a little explanation at the bottom of the page about what an mp3 is and where to find a player for it, because people didn’t know what they were and you needed to run something like WinAmp or QuickTime Player or the like.

Most people had to download the fights overnight, because it would take hours to download them. You could not stream mp3s yet; for most people they took about 3x as long to download as to play!

Things have changed so much in those last 20 years. Some for the better, some for the worse. I hope Song Fight! continues to outlive things that have been around “forever” for some time to come.
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Re: Song Fight! Is 20 Years Old!!!

Post by fluffy »

Oh and I remember the first protracted fight discussion thread was for Experimantal Fashion, where many people seemed to be out for blood because of amsmsmsptk’s weird abstract noise-art piece, and many others were totally into it and thought it was totally in keeping with the title. I think that led to the first of many debates over what constitutes “a song” and it went on for a few dozen pages. amsmsmsptk was never heard from again, which is unfortunate. (I was very much on team “this is really cool and I want to hear more.”)
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Re: Song Fight! Is 20 Years Old!!!

Post by gizo »

Thanks for that awesome background, fluffy! I thoroughly enjoy reading these amazing background stories, and remembering little bits of who I used to be back when I had hair and stuff like that.
fluffy wrote:
Tue Jun 23, 2020 8:31 pm
“Monkey Business” used to just be a single thread that got very, very long.
...and I just realised that when we rolled out Teams this year in response to COVID, I created a 'Monkey Business' channel for my team. Go figure.
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Re: Song Fight! Is 20 Years Old!!!

Post by jb »

No Teams rollout is complete until there’s an f druink channel
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Re: Song Fight! Is 20 Years Old!!!

Post by fluffy »

considering renaming work slack's #happy-hour to #kind-o-fdrink-ruight-now

also I was about to reminisce about Unfunny but I just reread some of it and holy shit these comics generally did not age well
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Re: Song Fight! Is 20 Years Old!!!

Post by Lunkhead »

Oh wow, I forgot all about Nevada.
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Re: Song Fight! Is 20 Years Old!!!

Post by fluffy »

Oh yeah, Nevada!

A thread was getting rather heated. So someone (Jefff, I think?) posted a very large picture of scenic Nevada to calm everyone down, which had the fun side effect of messing up the horizontal wrapping of the page.

it became a whole thing.
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Re: Song Fight! Is 20 Years Old!!!

Post by owl »

I loved reading that history and context, fluffy, thank you!
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Re: Song Fight! Is 20 Years Old!!!

Post by sleepysilverdoor »

Like this?
Image
"There's a lot to be said about a full-on frontal assault on the ear drums" - Pigfarmer Jr.
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Re: Song Fight! Is 20 Years Old!!!

Post by fluffy »

Something like that. Back then forum software didn’t do anything to prevent a large image from disrupting a page layout, but HTML has evolved since then.
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Re: Song Fight! Is 20 Years Old!!!

Post by jack »

Paco Del Stinko wrote:
Tue Jun 23, 2020 9:36 am
Happy birthday, plus a few days, Song Fight!

Here's my incredible story. I began recording on 4-track cassette in late '88. In 1994-95, I took a music class while living in Albuquerque. We all had to compose something and present it to the class. I was the only one who titled theirs. (Hounded By A Duck in C#m) Later that night, as i recalled the other peoples songs, i started assigning titles to them. I cracked myself up so much, i wrote down all the titles, and then wrote and recorded songs to the titles. I then began writing songs this way for many years: title first, in list form, songs after.

I transitioned to a Roland digital 8-track in late '99, 24-track around 2005-06. I still use the old Roland 24, say what you will. Somehow I found the AAD site, which had a link to SF!. Imagine that! People were using MY idea of writing songs to titles! Wow! This was early 2006.

I wrote and recorded three or four songs to titles before finally submitting to Covered In Bugs. Histrionics came up in the reviews, but that didn't bother me. ( At one point I had more reviews than entries, but those days are long gone. Ahem. Talk about it later)

Anyway, even after two years off from here, I have a shit ton of songs. Emphasis on shit, perhaps. I am constantly knocked out by the talent here and always encourage those learning and struggling to keep at it. It's always good to create. You all have been good to me and I appreciate it, and hope i can occasionally pay back. I may be heading towards a reduced schedule here, but probably can't make it last.

ANYWAY, keep it up, everbody, this is a unique and beautiful thing. Long live SongFight!

P.S. If interested for some reason, the Paco name came about after me and couple of buddies each took a challenge to create albums. I wanted a pretentious, pompousy sounding name as producer in the credits, like Ricardo Montobaln selling a Cordoba and somehow came up with del Stinko. Bill Heuristics corrected me on the boards here that the d in del is not capitalized. I had been thinking it was more akin to Del Shannon, or something. Big dope. Anyway, that's why it's still capital d inmy user name.
And he took a train from New England to Tampa just to come to a Song Fight Live! Legendary!
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Re: Song Fight! Is 20 Years Old!!!

Post by ken »

Thanks for sharing our history all.

I found out about Songfight from a couple of guys I was playing in a band with in 2001. They had gone to that first SF show and came back insisting that this was a thing for me. I was already writing a lot of songs, often from titles, and transitioning from recording on my four-track to using my computer. I probably wasn't successful the first couple of tries and eventually completed Indie Rock Bottom. What I miss about those days is that is was usually two weeks between title and submission. I could spend a week writing and a week arranging/recording. I'm pretty sure I won that fight because my mom voted for me a thousand times. I was pretty much hooked after that, soon after attending the next SF Live in Seattle. I went not really knowing anyone except Blue Lang (who was also from the Bay Area). Spud picked me up from the airport and fluffy was there. We spend time trying to find Roymond, but had no idea who we were looking for. I remember being warmly welcomed into the fold even though I was super intimidated by everyone. Especially who I thought were the old guard/cool kids: JB, Frank, Jefff/ADD, Erik/15-16 puzzle, and Chris (pfm). I ended up hanging out a lot with the Suzies who were crashing in Spud's barn, and went to the EMP with MC Frontalot. A couple of highlights for me from that show were Heidi (Mrs. PFM) telling me she liked my voice, and Holbit's concern when I left the show for a bit to give my host a ride home. At the end of the night, it was like the last day of summer camp. Everyone had bonded and were sorry to have to go.

It's kind of a blur from there. I met Glenn Case, and bonded further with Hoblit when we shared a hotel room in Austin. That year I felt like I connected with the all the folks I felt outside of the year before. Sober drove me around blasting Starfinger's More Than Soup. I smoked cigarettes with Mad Dog from Octothorpe. I started to learn about the how the site was run, the story of Deep Throat, and other secrets. Also, at a lot of Migas. I think I backed up about half the bands that weekend. A trend that would continue for years.

I started hosting Songfight shows in the bay area. I hosted the Suzies at my house in the hills. We had a great time having people travel to hang out and play in Berkeley and San Francisco. We had car crashes and noise complaints. We drank a lot of Maker's Mark.

I brought a lot of people I knew into the fold: Ross Durand, Glennny, Seamus, Evil-E... I made up bands and never admitted it was me. I collaborated with people I've never met, though for a while, I think I had met more Songfighters than most. I felt like Mayor of Songfight Town. I may still hold the unofficial record for most submissions and wins. It is just not worth counting at this point, and it really isn't about winning, it is about playing the game.

Anyway, I'm still at it, and count many songfighters as my closest friends. It has been great to know so many of you for so long. It is good to see people improve and grow. It has been fun to be part of the inside bubble that keeps things running. After all these years, I still enjoy writing songs and submitting them. I also don't mind winning now and then...
Ken's Super Duper Band 'n Stuff - Berkeley Social Scene - Tiny Robots - Seamus Collective - Semolina Pilchards - Cutie Pies - Explino! - Bravo Bros. - 2 from 14 - and more!

i would just like to remind everyone that Ken eats kittens - blue lang
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Re: Song Fight! Is 20 Years Old!!!

Post by jb »

Ah, memories, apparently in no particular order since I know some of these came before others of these:

Meeting with Frankie to trade songs, and finding Song Fight (our first entry was On a Line-- Frankie won!).
Flying to San Francisco to meet weird internet people for the first Song Fight Live, organized by MC Frontalot IIRC at a defunct place called "Hot Lunch".
Meeting Jefff (ADD Music) for the first time, he wearing a grungy white t-shirt with HILFIGER scrawled on it in sharpie. I thought that was the coolest.
Brandon of Milwaukee Youth Center Choir (and MC Frontalot's bass player) driving us back to our hotel, and I had to pee SO BAD, and he kept talking about fountains and dripping water the whole ride.
Lots of other Song Fight Live shenanigans, hosting with Frankie in Lancaster PA, walking around Austin searching for lime juice to make kamikazes with Erik (15-16 Puzzle) and Jefff (ADD Music), walking around Boston with Raised by Wolves, meeting Hoblit for the first time, years later cloggin Hoblit's toilet during rehearsal in Tampa, getting BLOWN AWAY by Wreckdom at the second Austin SFLive, playing a show in San Fran with everybody including sonofsupercar and getting so drunk on Maker's Mark that I took a hit of a joint at the after party and spent the next hour puking my guts up in the company of a very patient MC Frontalot and his friend Stacy who was later immortalized with a title.
Registering .net and .org so they wouldn't be squatted
Spud running meanwhiles after Narbotic became disenchanted
Moving the "official" contests over to .org
Cranking up this PHPBB when dumbrella closed its general forums.
Flying to Santa Monica to appear on "Attack of the Show" with Spud. The guy who made Gimpshop was the producer of our segment. Spud and I wrote "Prayer for Pancakes" in like 10 minutes, and I to this date have not satisfied his request to re-record it.
Weddings and hookups, Pray for Mojo, me, Merisan, Add, Ken.
Usurping a fight to propose to my wife.
Visiting San Francisco and going without sleep so I could play with Berkeley Social Scene.
Lots and lots of covers and collaborations and songs and lifelong friends.

I plan to keep hosting SongFight.org until I die and hopefully then my uploaded AI clone will choose to keep up the registration in my memory from his co-located server bunker on the moon.

Happy 20th, songfighters, long may we rock.

JB
blippity blop ya don’t stop heyyyyyyyyy
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Re: Song Fight! Is 20 Years Old!!!

Post by frankie big face »

And while we’re on the subject, can anyone believe we are about to complete the FIFTEENTH Nur Ein?! That seems impossible.
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Re: Song Fight! Is 20 Years Old!!!

Post by irwin »

Such a great community, so many memories.

Went to the SongFight! presents in late 2003 at that weird venue above in an industrial neighborhood near 280 (is my recollection?). I remember Brother Machine rocking the house, and Son of Supercar being so loud they forced half the crowd outside. Epic.

Attended a show in Berkeley a few months later (anyone remember that one?) where I think Lunkhead played Rhodes for MC Frontalot? I remember meeting Ken's parents when I went to get a beer.

My first SongFight! live was in 2009 in Spokane. What a great road trip. Most of us stayed at the same hotel and it was only a few blocks from the venue. It was awesome to meet everyone in person, and to jam at Glenn Case's house.

Long Beach! Getting to drink beers with J$ in person and jam with fluffy on Night Terrors were highlights. Also, jamming at Ross' house.

2010 in San Francisco, I got to play on Jon Eric's set, which rocked the house. Got to go to t he Oakland zoo with Glennny and his kids, which was super awesome. The bus ride back to the hotel with Jon Eric and Inevitableguy where we made up songs to pass the time.

2011 in NYC, I will never forget trying to negotiate for gear with Niveous and the Chezch guy at the beer garden. "We need that." "I not give you that. You have that." (points to smaller mixer) And thanks MC Frontalot for the White Castle! Got to play pool with Roymond's kids, which was super cool. Fdrink gyro food cart at 2AM in Manhattan with Ujn, and hungover street walk the next day.

2015 in Portland. Wish we could have stayed longer. Was awesome to get to see Glennny's Family Band.

2017 in Berkeley, what a great venue. fluffy did a great set. Loved Glennny's and Roymond’s sets as well and Ken never fails to bring down the house with 'Shreds'.

Those are my quick hits. Too many more, I'd go on forever. So grateful for this community.
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Re: Song Fight! Is 20 Years Old!!!

Post by ken »

jb wrote:
Wed Jun 24, 2020 11:38 am
Flying to San Francisco to meet weird internet people for the first Song Fight Live, organized by MC Frontalot IIRC at a defunct place called "Hot Lunch".
irwin wrote:
Wed Jun 24, 2020 12:46 pm
Went to the SongFight! presents in late 2003 at that weird venue above in an industrial neighborhood near 280 (is my recollection?). I remember Brother Machine rocking the house, and Son of Supercar being so loud they forced half the crowd outside. Epic.
Since we are writing down our history, I need to point out that this is the same venue. Called Hot Lunch and later, the Accordion.
irwin wrote:
Wed Jun 24, 2020 12:46 pm
Attended a show in Berkeley a few months later (anyone remember that one?) where I think Lunkhead played Rhodes for MC Frontalot?
This was likely at Belladona, an arts and healing space Erin was involved with. We put on a few shows there before the cops got wise, or they closed. I forget which.

Ken
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Lunkhead
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Re: Song Fight! Is 20 Years Old!!!

Post by Lunkhead »

Yeah, I played bass for MC Frontalot at Belladonna in Berkeley. But I think I wound up having to use somebody else's bass and/or amp and it was crap and threw me off since I was already nervous, and I felt like I did a really shit job. :lol: sonofsupercar closed the show. They weren't playing last, they just played so loud that the neighbors complained to the cops who came and shut it down and that was that. :lol:
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