This post originally appeared at Reveille Magazine in spring of 2008.

Who would win in a fight between a Band of Horses and a Band of Bees? How would a Birdmonster stand up to a pair of Wolf Eyes? Wonder no more.

It’s a question even older than Animal Collective: Given the menagerie of animal band names out there, who’s got the will to be a champion? Since judgment of music is subjective, the only real way to determine the winner from 24 challengers for the crown of Animal Band Name to Rule Them All is to pair them off and fight to the death. With extreme prejudice, here is how I ranked the field.

1. Eagles of Death Metal
2. Wolf Parade
3. Mastodon
4. Grizzly Bear
5. Phoenix
6. Birdmonster
7. We Are Wolves
8. Band of Horses
9. Band of Bees
10. AIDS Wolf
11. Frog Eyes
12. Foals
13. Fleet Foxes 
14. rinôçérôse
15. Caribou
16. The Eagles
17. The Wrens
18. The Cows
19. Tortoise
20. Panda Bear
21. The Ponys
22. Wolf Eyes
23. Modest Mouse
24. Eels

The top eight seeds are all getting byes for the first round. The top four were really no-brainers: Whether because of size or ferocity, they all deserve to be up there, and The Eagles of Death Metal have death metal on their side. Phoenix and Birdmonster? Well, the phoenix is a mythical creature, and who knows what the fuck a Birdmonster is, so they’re up there for potential. We Are Wolves only trails Wolf Parade because of what seem to be some self-esteem issues; Wolf Parade don’t need a press release to tell us who they are—they’re putting on a goddamn parade! Band of Horses—well, there’s just a lot of them.

A few notes about the rest of the field: AIDS Wolf is just one wolf, and it has AIDS, so clearly not up there with the Elite Eight, but also still a wolf. Wolf Eyes went in heavily favored over Frog Eyes because, hey, frog vs. wolf is no contest, but instead they ended up at 22 while Frog Eyes leaped to 11. Strength of schedule played a heavy part in seeding. Modest Mouse could have won a higher seed, but too modest. rinôçérôse was a heavy favorite going into seeding, but French, so, no. And watch out for Band of Bees; they’re looking like a favorite to upset a higher seed or two.

There were also some band names that couldn’t make it: The Hawks (disqualified from the NABNA (National Animal Band Name Association) for changing their name to The Band), Emmet Otter’s Jug Band (actually otters), The Frogs (season-ending eye injury), Swans (previous commitment to an Akron/Family picnic and reunion with Ugly Duckling), The Jayhawks (still celebrating their win in the NCAA Tournament), and Cannibal Ox (cannibalism will not be tolerated).

THE FIRST ROUND

9. Band of Bees vs. 24. Eels — As always, home field advantage played a huge advantage here, with the Band of Bees squaring off against some Eels in a flower-filled meadow. The bees mostly made honey while waiting for the eels to expire.

10. AIDS Wolf vs. 23. Modest Mouse — This one was over before it began, AIDS or no.

11. Frog Eyes vs. 22. Wolf Eyes — Both these teams actually had to win play-in games against “Hungry Eyes” and “Private Eyes,” respectively. Momentum favored Wolf Eyes, who rode it into the second round.

12. Foals vs. 21. The Ponys — The Ponys were too undersized to match up in the post, plus the Foals had youth on their side.

13. Fleet Foxes vs. 20. Panda Bear — Fleet, but not fleet enough. In the first upset of the tournament, Panda Bear moves on to the second round.

14. rinôçérôse vs. 19. Tortoise — Playing with some hunger (perhaps to avenge a low seed), rinôçérôse handled Tortoise with little difficulty.

15. Caribou vs. 18. The Cows — It’s pretty hard to get a bunch of herbivores to fight, but numbers won the day as The Cows beat out the undermanned Caribou.

16. The Eagles vs. 17. The Wrens — The Wrens were probably seeded too high here, taken easily by The Eagles. Hey, at least it’s not the BCS.

THE SECOND ROUND

1. The Eagles of Death Metal vs. 16. The Eagles — Once again, in a fight between some eagles and some eagles powered by death metal, who are you going to pick? Also, there was apparently some trouble with transportation from the hotel for The Eagles, resulting in their late arrival and a lack of warm-up time. Something about checking in but not being able to leave.

2. Wolf Parade vs. 18. The Cows — Was this ever in question? Wolf Parade decimated The Cows, drubbing them even more soundly than they did The Little Red Riding Hoods earlier in the season.

3. Mastodon vs. 14. rinôçérôse
— A close one, but ultimately, rinôçérôse couldn’t handle Mastodon’s size, not to mention a lack of advance scouting, since no one’s seen a mastodon for millions of years. Also, cold weather played a factor.

4. Grizzly Bear vs. 20. Panda Bear — The match-up everyone was looking forward to this season. Not as close as you might have expected, either, since Panda Bear mostly just ate bamboo and acted cute, while Grizzly Bear got down to business.

5. Phoenix vs. 12. Foals — It was hard to know how to call this one, but Phoenix basically just outlasted Foals. Never underestimate your opponent when they can rise from their own ashes.

6. Birdmonster vs. 22. Wolf Eyes — I’ll be honest, I don’t even know what a Birdmonster is. A gryphon? One of those roosters that turn people to stone? Whatever it is, I’m pretty sure it could kick the shit out of a pair of eyes from a wolf.

7. We Are Wolves vs. 10. AIDS Wolf — In the most heroic game to feature an HIV-positive athlete since Magic Johnson suited up for the All-Star Game in 1992, AIDS Wolf trounced We Are Wolves singlehandedly.

8. Band of Horses vs. 9. Band of Bees — Another much-anticipated match-up here, with heavy favorite Band of Horses falling to Band of Bees. Bees can sting, you know, whereas horses can’t really do much other than run and chew.

THE THIRD ROUND

1. The Eagles of Death Metal vs. 9. Band of Bees — Once again, bees have the stingers, but these eagles have death metal. No contest. E of DM advances.

4. Grizzly Bear vs. 5. Phoenix — Grizzly Bear showed a lot of heart in this one, but each time they had the bird on the ropes, it would just burst into flames, light the bear on fire, and come back to life. You just can’t teach that kind of heart. Phoenix FTW.

2. Wolf Parade vs. 10. AIDS Wolf
— AIDS Wolf was really the Cinderella story of this tournament, but the ride couldn’t last forever. Wolf Parade advances in a close one.

3. Mastodon vs. 6. Birdmonster — With no one still really sure just what a Birdmonster is, Mastodon rolls to victory handily. If you haven’t got a solid team identity going into a tournament like this, you’re not going to go all the way.

THE SEMIFINALS


1. The Eagles of Death Metal vs. 5. Phoenix — A titanic clash of mystical powers. On one side, the mythical phoenix, endowed with the ability to come back from the dead. On the other, death metal-powered birds of prey. I’m sorry, but magical fire is no match for leather jackets, chains, flying Vs, and mullets. Eagles of Death Metal advance to the championship.

2. Wolf Parade vs. 3. Mastodon — Wolves were practically born to hunt Mastodon, and once again, it comes down to sheer numbers. One wolf? Not a chance, and certainly not one with AIDS. It took the whole pack and the floats from their parade, but Wolf Parade take down Mastodon to advance.

THE FINALS

1. The Eagles of Death Metal vs. 2. Wolf Parade — It always seems to come down to the one and two seed, doesn’t it? Perhaps drained by their effort in the previous round against Phoenix, The Eagles of Death Metal came out flat in this one, and once a parade of wolves has a grip on your throat, they’re going for the kill.

YOUR CHAMPION … WOLF PARADE

Don’t expect a dynasty though; some of the wolves are declaring early for the draft. 

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