- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 4, 2001

Call it "Survivor" with music. Put rock n roll bands on tour with no money, leave them to their own devices to succeed and, if they fail, vote them off the musical island.
Its VH1s "Bands on the Run," a raucous, sometimes raunchy race for notoriety thats part CBS "Survivor," part MTVs "Real World."
"Bands on the Run" follows four unsigned rock bands as they compete in a 13-week road trip to win cash, music equipment and the opportunity to make their own music video.
"Ive always had a fascination with band dynamics. With that in mind, I was sort of looking for a show that would have an element that was different," says Jane Lipsitz, the shows co-producer.
While the game element is somewhat intriguing, the band members over-the-top antics give the show its entertainment value.
Each week, the bands travel to different cities with one mission to make as much money as possible by selling tickets and merchandise at their gigs.
To make the money, the bands are given $20 and left to their own creativity to promote themselves. At the end of the night, whoever has the most money wins the contest.
VH1 keeps a running tally of receipts. The bands with the least amount of money will be taken out of the game in special elimination episodes. In the end, two bands will be left to compete for $50,000 and the music video.
Those competing include Soulcracker, a pop-rock quartet from San Diego; Flickerstick, a Dallas-based rock band; Harlow, an all-girl punk group from Los Angeles; and the Josh Dodes Band of Philadelphia.
While the contenders are legitimate bands, Miss Lipsitz admits they were cast for the band members personalities as much as their abilities.
"We were looking for compelling people who people would want to tune in to every week," she says. "But these are real bands. Were sort of documenting life on the road and throwing this game element in there."
But is it reality?
Lead singer Josh Dodes calls it a "close facsimile."
"Whats real is the intensity you see onstage, the music," he says. "But living on $20, just showing up and trying to get people to your show? No smart band does that. When we go out on the road, we have a tour manager and somebody to help with promotions."
Harlow lead singer Amanda Rootes says the show captured her band well.
"There are a few things they twist around in the editing process, but I think we come across really the way we are," she says after watching the first episode.
The opening episode involved three of the four bands gathering in Venice, Calif., where they turn over their bank cards and credit cards and are told to head to San Francisco for their first gig.
The game show immediately takes a back seat to the bands, which are playing their own personal games.
Flickersticks drummer, Dominic Weir, immediately emerges as the one you love to hate. (Think Puck of "Real World" or "Survivor" winner Richard Hatch.)
When the groups lead guitarist, Cory Kreig, finds out his father died while the group was on the road, Mr. Weir is insensitive. The incident sets the stage for conflict to come.
Meanwhile, Harlow and Soulcracker are having their own problems.
Harlows members, together less than two years, are struggling to come up with ideas to promote their band. Soulcrackers pop music is a little staid for San Franciscos underground music scene and puts it at odds with Harlow, the band Soulcrackers musicians dub "the vampire girls."
"At the end of the day, the people from 'Survivor, 'Road Rules, 'Real World, shows like that go home and watch what other people have to say about them," Miss Lipsitz says. "But for these bands, when its all over, they still have to be bands."

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