The Star Wars Cantina Band Has Way More Going On Than You Realize

By Zack Zagranis | Published

The Star Wars series The Book of Boba Fett may have been a letdown overall, but it did prove one thing: people love Max Rebo. The moment the leader of the Max Rebo Band appeared on screen in the Book of Boba Fett episode 1, fans flocked to the internet to post about the return of their favorite elephantine musician. And yet, if you ask a Star Wars fan what they think of Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes (more commonly known as the Cantina Band), you’re liable to get a blank stare in return.

The Modal Nodes

That’s because the Modal Nodes, along with their gambling-addicted leader, Figrin D’an, are almost exclusively known as “The Cantina Band,” despite being officially named almost 30 years ago. And the name Modal Nodes isn’t just some esoteric bit of quasi-trivia from Legends that may or may not be canon now. Several Disney-era Star Wars books and video games have used the name Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes for the Cantina Band.

That Other Tatooine Band

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Why, then, does everyone continue to refer to them as the Cantina Band? Why does The Max Rebo band and its rotund blue band leader enjoy brand name recognition when the Cantina Band has existed for longer and is arguably more famous? There are a couple of reasons for this.

For starters, Max Reebo, Sy Snootles, and Droopy McCool all had names right from the jump. Likewise, their big Jabba’s palace number—”Lapti Nek” if your old school, “Jedi Rocks” if you grew up with the Special Editions—always had a name other than “Jabba Song” or something equally nondescript. The Modal Nodes, however, started out in Star Wars: A New Hope as a nameless group of Bith musicians. Even worse, their song was named “Cantina Band” by composer John Williams.

A Massive 70s Hit Cemented Their Name

The song’s in-universe title is “Mad about Me,” but you’ll never see that on an official Star Wars album. That’s because the song’s status as simply the Cantina Band song was further cemented by the disco artist Meco, whose hit single “Star Wars Theme / Cantina Band” was a huge hit in the late ’70s. It also goes without saying that if the piece of music most associated with your group is labeled “Cantina Band,” then the group will, by association, also be known as the Cantina Band.

Names Of The Cantina Customers

Which is a shame because all of the other denizens of Chalmun’s Spaceport Cantina—yeah, that’s right, the establishment itself has a real name as well—have been known primarily by their “real” names since at least the late ’90s. Much like Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes, many of the cantina aliens from A New Hope originally had generic names. When the original run of Star Wars action figures was coming out, Lucasfilm gave Kenner carte blanche to name any of the unidentified creatures, like the Cantina Band, that they wanted to use.

As a result, Kenner produced figures with names like Walrus Man and Hammerhead. Later, these characters would be given proper names like Ponda Baba and Momaw Nadon—well, proper for Star Wars, at least. Thanks to the Star Wars Expanded Universe, the Cantina Band would not only get a name, The Modal Nodes, but each member would be identified along with their respective instrument. The band’s roster consists of leader Figrin D’an (kloo horn), Doikk Na’ts (Dorenian Beshnique), Ickabel G’ont (Double Jocimer), Lirin Car’n (kloo horn), Nalan Cheel (bandfill), Sun’il Ei’de (drums), Tech Mo’r (Ommni Box), and Tedn Dahai (fanfare).

Modal Nodes Forever Linked To The Cantina

For the most part, the new names stuck—almost no one refers to Ponda Baba as Walrus Man these days—except when it comes to the Modal Nodes. It would seem that the most famous band to play Chalmun’s Cantina is cursed to be forever linked to the place.

Ingrained In Everyone’s Mind

Will Figrin D’an and his infamous group of Jizz-wailers ever get the respect they deserve? Probably not, sadly. The name Cantina Band is just too ingrained in everyone’s mind for anyone but the most pedantic Star Wars fan to ever call them anything else.