Title: “Chain Link Offense””
Prompt: One of the long across entries in this puzzle needs to be replaced by the meta answer, an alternative rock band of the same length, in order for the theme to make sense.
Got to this very late (started solving at 10:10 PM ET, so 50 mins before deadline) so excuse the rushed review. Theme entries are:
25-A: BOAT RACE
35-A: CAR WHEEL
58-A: GAME NIGHT
From the title, saw a (broken) chain made by re-slicing the theme entries:
…but then it breaks down, since NIGHT HANDLE and BAR BOAT aren’t really things. So can we come up with an alt-rock band of 9 letters (since HANDLEBAR is the entry to be replaced) that will form two new legit phrases with NIGHT-something and something-BOAT?
Nothing came to mind, so I started list-scouring, ultimately finding a band named LIFEHOUSE that fit the bill (forming NIGHTLIFE and HOUSEBOAT). Never heard of them or any of their songs; I found them listed as the 80th-greatest Alt-rock band of all time here though so I went with it. Not a big fan of their music, which sounds AI-generated to my ear. But being the 80th-best alt-rock band of all time is more than I did today so whatever.
3.75 stars, assuming I’m right. How’d you do?