What’s In A Name? Europe’s Weirdest Band Names

“What’s in a name?” once asked William Shakespeare, who was sort of a 16th Century Christopher Nolan. “That which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet.” But not – as the philosopher Homer pointed out – if they were called crapweeds.

I spent the last week at the Netherland’s Eurosonic Noorderslag festival watching some of Europe’s finest new bands – but like anyone scanning a festival line-up for the first time, my first impression usually came from their name. But were their weird and wonderful names misleading? Or did they – like the Shitty Beatles – give an accurate guide as to what to expect? Let’s find out:

Acid Baby Jesus

What I expected: Everyone who’s in a psychedelic rock band thinks that acid is the coolest drug. Taking it is the closest to the cliché of being “on drugs” and also it’s less of a downer than being a heroin addict. That’s why bands will chuck an ‘Acid’ in their name to make it clear they’re totally down with drugs, man, and definitely not a narc (see also: Acid Temple Mothers, The Acid). ‘Baby Jesus’ is also a classic band name choice because you’re juxtaposing rock’n’roll with its natural enemy: organised religion (see also: The Jesus & Mary Chain, The Flaming Lips’ ‘Jesus Shootin’ Heroin’). I’m expecting this band to sound like The Brian Jonestown Massacre or Fat White Family.
What I got: Bingo (but Greek).

Mongoose & The Boombox

What I expected: Like Catfish And The Bottlemen, who also played Eurosonic, this is a truly rubbish bandname. It makes no sense, it’s too long, it’s not remotely cool. Even Rudyard Kipling knew that ‘mongoose’ is a terrible name, which is why he gave his literary mongoose the totally badass name Rikki-Tikki-Tavi. I’m not sure what I’m expecting from this but I’m assuming it’s going to be terrible.
What I got: Not bad at all. A laidback hip-hop sound that recalls Jurassic 5 or De La Soul and sounds distinctly like one or two of the members may have visited a Dutch coffeeshop at one point or another. Which isn’t surprising. You must have to be seriously high to choose that name.

Apes on Tape

What I expected: Basically that advert where a gorilla plays ‘In The Air Tonight’ on drums. Raises the question as to whether you could actually train an animal to perform in and tour with a band? Probably deeply unethical, but you can’t say an all-monkey Arctic Monkeys cover band wouldn’t be entertaining. I’m expecting something loud, heavy and feral. A band at one with their animal instincts.
What I got: Way off – it’s more chilled, sample-based hip-hop that owes more to MF Doom than a monkey playing drums. Also it turns out they released a track called ‘Cattlestar Galak-Tical’ so they clearly have a thing for animal puns.

Narcosatanicos

What I expected: This is honestly one of the best band names I’ve ever heard. They’ve taken the exact same formula as ‘Acid Baby Jesus’ (Drug reference + religious refererence) but they’ve made it awesome by making a compound word and adding an ‘o’ to the end. They’re Danish, and I’m pretty sure that isn’t Danish. Their bio on the festival bill said: “The name of this band could already lead one to suspect that this isn’t a happy little band that sings about the birds and the bees.” You’re damn right! I’m expecting sex, drugs and psychedelic riffage.
What I got: A squalling wall of sound and screaming jazz sax, with guest vocals from what sounds like Satan himself. Great name, great band.

Jungle By Night presenteert Tropenkolder In De Polder

What I expected: Ok, so the band’s name is pretty standard, suggesting little more than everyone’s favourite private-schooled funk collective playing in the dark, but their ‘Tropenkolder In De Polder’ project is what caught my eye. It’s the phrase I’ve enjoyed saying most since the Portuguese winger Sérgio Conceição. I asked a load of Dutch people what it means and they laughed hysterically and then said: ‘Tropical fever in the countryside’. I don’t find that very funny, so they were probably just laughing at my accent.
What I got: A sort of funk and soul ensemble show played by nerdy-looking white guys. So not at all like Jungle then.