Even if you somehow failed to notice the half-dozen men toting shoulder-mounted cameras, it was patently obvious that something was amiss at last night’s Rock and Roll Hotel show. For one thing, no one had ever heard of the headlining band, Wicked Liquid, though two of D.C.’s big crowd getters, Once Okay Twice and Politicks, were opening. For another, Wicked Liquid had about three roadies setting up the stage for them—a luxury few local bands can afford. But the most obvious sign that we’d entered the topsy-turvy world of “reality” television was the fact that Wicked Liquid had no merch.

Bands make most of their money on merch, these days, but Wicked Liquid had exactly two T-shirts in stock and they landed on the table right before the band took the stage—-clearly more prop than sales opportunity. One of the shirts was soon sacrificed, torn in half to cover the Once Okay Twice logo on the shared bass drum. (I inquired about buying the other shirt, and a clipboard-wielding guy said he wasn’t sure it was for sale.)

Wicked Liquid’s funky bass, plus Real World castmember Josh Colon‘s speak-singing, make the band sonic sisters with Red Hot Chili Peppers. Wicked Liquid even played a Chili Peppers song, “Snow.” (About half of the songs in its set were covers.) And when the crowd clamored for an encore, Colon returned to stage, looking sheepish, and said, “I’m sorry, that’s all we’ve got.”

I suspect that will be the last that D.C. audiences hear from this band, but Real World stalkers don’t dismay—-the Rock and Roll Hotel, in conjunction with Real World cast member Emily Schromm, is hosting a benefit on Tuesday, Sept. 29, for Africa Action.