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Fear Factor

What could be worse than getting brained by your bassist's headstock in the middle of a set? How about having your cheek punctured by one of the tuning pegs, getting knocked unconscious and then coming to, choking on your own blood? That's what happened to Fear Before the March of Flames frontman David Marion during a tour stop in San Diego on Friday, November 3.

On the road with Norma Jean and Between the Buried and Me, Fear was two songs into its fourteenth gig on the forty-date Radio Rebellion tour when the unfortunate incident -- which gave unexpected meaning to the title of the act's latest record, The Always Open Mouth -- occurred. And then, in what was either a very brave or very ill-advised demonstration of resilience on Marion's part, the singer cleaned himself off and somehow finished the set before he was whisked away to the hospital, where he was given a CAT scan and prescribed some heavy-duty painkillers.

"We apologize in advance if we cannot play tonight," guitarist Adam Fisher wrote in a post-trauma blog on the band's MySpace page. "Again, we will only not play if it is 100% detrimental to David's health. Remember, it is a hole in his face that you could fit a small rodent through. It's not a scratch. Thank you for understanding and enjoy the rest of the bands!"

Given Fear's frenetic live show, you knew that sooner or later somebody would end up getting clobbered. In fact, a few hours prior to the San Diego show in an interview with NotMTV.tv, Fisher and Marion discussed how limited space has become since they went from a four-piece to a six-piece, and the dangers (more like inevit-ability) of a possible collision. In a follow-up interview posted a few days later, Marion -- looking as banged up as Stallone at the end of Rocky II -- recounted the excruciating episode.

While Marion's wounds heal, Fisher and bassist Mike Madruga plan to take over on a few tunes. And Cory Brandan and Tommy Rogers, who handle vocal duties for Norma Jean and Between the Buried and Me, respectively, have offered to pitch in as well. Fisher has also extended an informal invitation to fans who think they have the moxie to sing on a track or two. Show your stuff when Fear plays this Thursday, November 16, at Cervantes'. No, Flaco!: While heading down Broadway last week, I noticed that posters hyping Yo, Flaco!'s farewell performances a few weekends ago had been spray-painted over with a big circle and slash. And while it's hard to imagine that members of Flaco! -- who'll soon head to L.A., as reported in this column a few weeks ago -- have developed haters, they definitely have. But it wasn't a rival hip-hop crew that tagged them, but rather a group of vigilante citizens who'd grown weary of seeing the act's posters around town.

The disgruntled do-gooders, otherwise known as "Sharks," are all members of an informal Dallas-based organization that calls itself Citizens Against Unlawful Street Spam (www.causs.org). The Denver chapter's goal: to keep the streets and telephone poles of the Mile High City free from unwanted, illegal ads -- street spam, if you're nasty -- by any means necessary.

CAUSS's website advises would-be Sharks on removal tactics and offers tips on crafting homemade tools typically used on the "Coroplast" signs planted streetside that tout home business or weight-loss opportunities. Paging through the site's discussion board, though, you don't need to be Gil Grissom to realize that CAUSS enthusiasts are the ones targeting Flaco!, going so far as to suggest printing up "event canceled" stickers and slapping them on the placards.

"It's the strangest thing I've ever seen," says Flaco! guitarist Brandon Martin. "People are upset with our fliering, like they have nothing else to do with their lives. We seem to be public enemy number one because we definitely do the most consistent fliering around town. It's got to be these people. I don't know who else would exert that sort of effort. I think it's funny. They're so concerned about how all the streets look. That certainly looks a lot uglier."

For about as long as musicians have been making music, they've been making fliers. This has been an effective and cheap means of promotion, and some fans of urban grit even argue that such signs give a city character. But to me, in this age of MySpace bulletins and e-mail blasts, they seem like so much wasted paper -- and I'm no tree-hugger. Likewise, when I see bands passing out handbills, I see people taking them to be polite, then shoving them in the trash -- or worse, tossing them on the ground.

Still, that's no reason for CAUSS to get ugly. It's hard enough to be a band around here without some do-gooders doing you wrong.

Dream a little dream: In the coming weeks, Paste magazine will add A Shoreline Dream to its Paste Recommends listening booths across the country and include a track from the group's debut full-length on its sampler, reaching roughly 350,000 subscribers. That's great news for Ryan Policky's young group, whose inaugural tour this year was presented by Filter magazine and featured in various Urban Outfitters stores.

But as fortuitous as all this might seem, luck had absolutely nothing to do with it. The affiliations were all part of a carefully crafted and well-funded publicity campaign that began with Policky taking out a substantial home-equity loan to fund the band's freshly minted imprint, Latenight Weeknight Records. The move was risky, but calculated. "I thought, why don't I just take a loan out instead of just going to try to get a label that I'm going to have to pay back anyway?" Policky remembers.

Policky and his bandmates pressed 2,000 discs -- 1,600 of which were earmarked specifically for promotion -- and hired a fairly well-known independent publicity firm to push the record. And then, through friends of friends, they hooked up with Filter and Paste and negotiated tie-ins with each publication's lifestyle-marketing campaign.

Policky credits his time working at the Factory, a local advertising agency, and past stints with Drop the Fear and Pure Drama for helping shape the clever approach. And as the buzz surrounding A Shoreline Dream -- which will appear at the Fox Theatre on Wednesday, November 29 -- continues to build, the act plans to capitalize on its momentum by securing distribution for the label and then touring extensively in support of the disc.

Talk about living the dream.

Upbeats and beatdowns: A moment of silence for the Blackout Pact. The group, which issued its debut, Hello Sailor, on Geoff Rickly's (Thursday) Astromagnetic imprint in 2005, has called it quits, and delivered the bad news to fans last week -- hot on the heels of the String Cheese Incident's revelation that the band will come to rest next summer. Fortunately, Vaux, which recently parted ways with bassist Ryder Robison, will keep things going as a five-piece.


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