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Sunset Junction Sunday night: Arrested Development vs. Built to Spill vs. Morris Day & the Time

August 22, 2009 |  4:35 pm
By a catastrophic stroke of scheduling, the Sunset Junction organizers pitted three of the festival’s must-see acts against one another at the 8 o'clock hour on Sunday evening. Indeed, Arrested Development, Morris Day & the Time and Built to Spill (which technically start at 8:30 p.m.) have been forced into one of the fiercest head-to-head battles since a young Morris fought “The Kid” for the heart of Apollonia.

Though none of these veteran bands might be in its commercial heyday, all three boast deep discographies and notorious live stage shows, raising a quandary to anyone still clutching an overpriced watery margarita at the conclusion of the two-day street festival. In an effort to ease the psychological conflict such a crisis inculcates, Pop & Hiss presents a Tale of the Tape.

Who: Arrested Development

Formed: 1988

From: Atlanta

Biggest Hit: "Tennessee" from 1992’s “3 Years, 5 Months, 2 Days in the Life of Arrested Development" (Billboard's U.S. Pop No. 6, U.S. R&B No. 1, U.S. Rap No. 1)

Claim to Fame: In 1992, Arrested Development won the Grammy for best new artist and the Pazz & Jop Critics' Poll for album of the year, and was named Rolling Stone’s band of the year.

Who: Built to Spill

Formed: 1992

From: Boise, Idaho

Biggest Hit: Not known as a singles band, 1994’s “Car” was named one of Pitchfork’s 500 Greatest Songs. Their highest charting album was 2006’s “You in Reverse,” which topped out at No. 63 on the Billboard charts.

Claim to Fame: Despite spending the majority of their career on a major label, Built to Spill is widely regarded as one of the greatest indie rock groups of all time, and principal architects of its sound and aesthetic. Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse and Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie have acknowledged the band as one of their most seminal influences.

Who: Morris Day & the Time

Formed: 1981

From: Minneapolis

Biggest Hit: “Jerk Out” from 1990’s “Pandemonium” (Billboard's U.S. Hot 100 No. 9, U.S. Dance No. 6, U.S. R&B No. 1)

Claim to Fame: Prince wrote and co-produced nearly the entirety of their estimable catalog. Aided by his faithful Jerome, Morris Day played the antagonist in “Purple Rain.” The Time served as the career launching point for Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, one of R&B’s greatest songwriting and production teams.

The Categories

Stage Presence:

Few reports have surfaced about Arrested Development’s stage show since their "MTV Unplugged" in 1993. However, if the video for “People Everyday” is any indication, one can expect “Blossom” hats, call and response chants, bike rides and a general moonshine ebullience — unless the Cooper brothers show up and start bugging out.

Built to Spill are known for their ability to stand stiller than a spray-painted 3rd Street Promenade human robot. They are also famous for unpredictable covers, including M.I.A., Skip James, Ozzy Osbourne and the Strokes.

At certain moments in the early 1980s, Morris Day & the Time's stage show was regarded as potentially better than that of their tour mate:  “Purple Rain”-era Prince. That’s like being almost good enough to paint the Sistine Chapel.

Advantage: Morris Day & The Time

Sense of Altruism:

Even if Morris Day and Doug Martsch are revealed as blue-ribbon donors to the Gates Foundation, they cannot top the influence of Arrested Development’s “Mr. Wendal,” a song that made homelessness, a '90s charity du jour for approximately 17 hours.

Advantage: Arrested Development

Guitar Ability:

Built to Spill traffic in epic Dinosaur Jr.-descended guitar work that will satisfy the bearded and boozy horde.

Advantage: Built to Spill

Dance Moves:

Arrested Development are more likely to play a game of horseshoes than dance. The name, Built to Spill, inspires little confidence in their gymnastic grace. Morris Day & the Time can exhibit the video for “Jerk Out” as prima facie evidence.

Advantage: Morris Day & the Time

Ability to Fit Into the Silverlake Aesthetic:

Built to Spill is the Silver Lake aesthetic.

Best Hair (tie-breaker):

Built to Spill boast beards worthy of Zach Galifianakis. While this is certainly impressive, Morris Day’s bouffant circa “What Time Is It?” ranks among history’s greatest, arguably matched only by the Ronettes, Marge Simpson and Cosmo Kramer.

The Pick: Morris Day & the Time by a strand of bouffant.

--Jeff Weiss