My passion for rock music really took off in high school, when I was finally allowed to attend live shows, which to me, is the pinnacle of part of the true rock’n’roll experience…
My genre of focus had been folk-rock and “indie/alternative” rock, so bands such as Arctic Monkeys, The 1975, The Kooks, The Wombats, Mumford & Sons, Catfish and The Bottlemen, MGMT, The Black Keys, Kings of Leon, Jake Bugg, Ed Sheeran, etc. — all of whom are genuinely talented musicians, that I still listen to (well, at least some of them) that I mean no disrespect when I continue this… discourse..if you’d like to call it such. In
Throughout my four years in high school, I had been really invested in the arts. All my electives and focus had been on graphic design and photography, I also spent all my time outside of high school downtown either going to a show or connecting with my music friends; hell, I was even in a relationship with a musician! I lived, breathed and ingested arts and music at that point in my life.
With that being said, that was also a time in my life when I devoted every waking second caught up in this mystical life of being a “groupie” and being known for that. This also when people like Acacia Brinley were well known and considered the coolest online personalities. Girls like her what are known to be modern-day-millenial-groupies, I wanted to follow in her footsteps.
In fact, a majority of young girls wanted to be her, and you could see it in the 2013-2015 concert scene, especially at shows for artists like Jake Bugg, Arctic Monkeys, The 1975, Lana Del REy, and all those other talented, but “urban outfitter” brand bands and artists. We all dressed the same way, acted the same, and lowkey disrespected the artists in hopes of achieving online social points — not even real achievements, but hey, if your followers went up that’s what mattered most.
I would also like to add a side note that Acacia, has had the best “glow up” I have ever seen, she is now married with beautiful children, thriving! Major props to her. I honestly feel bad for even bringing up that part of her life, but she was kind of the poster-child of that era.
So, what does that have to do with alternative-indie-rock and whether or not if I hate those genres of music? It’s the culture within that genre that truly turns me off from that scene.
I’m not talking about the authentic alternative rock that consists of bands like RHCP, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Oasis, etc — it’s the mid-millennial-“urban outfitters” -that- throw-term-“grunge”-on-everything culture, that I, too, was a part of and f*ckng hate, and greatly wish to distance myself from, forever.
Before you jump down my throat, this isn’t to shit on people who shop at urban outfitters, and/ or those who still listen to the bands that I have mentioned. I’m more so talking about the root issue of hipster culture that ruins the genre for me, and irks me like no other; because admit it, that culture ruined the authenticity of music, it made rock and roll a brand. Though, I never fell that deep in that hole, I too was forgetting the purpose of a live show; I was one of those people…
So, back to my obsession with attaining this “cool” status online, all the while attending these shows and listening to the music, I was learning that the concert scene was cool, that people who listened to alternative/indie rock were better than those who listened to pop, or even metal, these beliefs were basically being further embedded into my brain with every show I attended, and I brought these values to the shows to fit it.
As mentioned, I had a musician boyfriend at the time, and because I never actually thought people read my posts on Tumblr (kind of like how I still think on this page *awkward laugh*), I spilled the tea on almost everything. Lord, was I wrong. People read my posts, attraction grew, the popularity of my page grew and so did my childish ego.
It worked, I was accepted, because that was the mentality at these kinds of shows.
Yes, I will fully admit that 15-17 year old me thought I was the shit. I thought I had it all. I had the urban outfitters clothes, I had the guest list for shows, I had “tumblr popularity” and I was ready to walk into a show with a head bigger than the venue; but I wasn’t doing that just for my own sake, I was just playing a part of the game.
See, the thing about the “alt-indie” rock shows, is that it was a competition, in fact, it still is. Alternative rock has changed immensely since the 90s and early 2000s, through the use of technology and social media. It is no longer about being different and wanting barrier so you could make eye-contact with band members that changed your life. The scene was more, “get barrier so you can brag about it and have sick pics for instagram” and that’s not even the full depth of it.
“Alt-indie” rock shows had been taken over by what we like to call in this day and age as squads that would compete amongst each other. Hell, I was in a squad called “barrier bitches”, we had become known for being the barrier at all the alt-rock shows, we knew the security, we knew the merch dudes, and we thought we were better than those who didn’t.
Now, you’re probably thinking “it’s not like that in my city” or “maybe it was because you guys were 15-17”, and, well I thought that too… but the story continues…
Fast forward to 2016 — yes i’m skipping all the details of my childish behaviour because I would internally die if I had to relive those moments. So, alas, the Tumblr scene crumbled, a lot of us who were once in high school were now in University; including me, and after three years with the infamous baby blue, we had parted ways. These major events in my life had led me to take off my rose-coloured-groupie-life glasses, that once allowed me to live in complete ignorance when attending those shows.
I went to a handful of shows in 2016, not many, maybe 4 or 5 (shoutout to the broke Uni life); But something I remember so vividly is my return to the “Alt-indie” rock show scene after a several month break (more like post-breakup-mental break). I showed up to the venue at like 10am, doors were at 7pm, so I thought that would be enough, little did I know things really shook up in the several months I took a break from the scene.
At 10am, I was greeted by this massive queue of tents! lesson number one had been showing up nine hours early would no longer get you to the barrier. I quickly realized that concerts, were no longer live music shows, it was a battleground, a hierarchy, and something at the age of 20/21 I was no longer down for.
Live shows, especially rock shows, should never be about who has the best outfit, who has the most Instagram followers, who had the most time on their schedule to follow the band, but that’s what it had become, it got worse from when I was a teenager. The competition level was high, the cattiness was even higher. I remember sitting in the queue with my friend and feeling my anxiety heighten, people from the front of the line would walk down the line and judge, you would hear talks about “so and so” attending all of the bands’ west-coast dates and how much they envied that lifestyle.
That’s still not even the worst part, because whatever, people gossip to kill time (eeugh), the most soul-crushing part were the shows themselves.
Man, the shows were such buzzkills. After waiting ages in the queue, the doors would open and it would become this……. sad vibe, yeah sad… that is the only way to describe the atmosphere in the rooms. Only a small portion of the crowd would actually be jamming, the other majority would be snapchatting or talking. Oh my god, the amount of times people would talk through or screech through important quiet bits or when the aritst is sharing a story; I could not believe my ears.
Had it always been this shit? Why did it take me so long to realize it?
Wanted to go to the bathroom when you were in the pit? tough luck man.
Wanted to actually hear the song you were waiting for? nah.
Wanted a photoshoot and screeches of “f*ck me (insert artist name)? apparently that’s all people can really do.
Listen, I’m a blogger — the most millennial culture job out there; I love social media, I still shop at urban outfitters when my penny stretches, that’s not my issue. I know people younger than me who have more knowedge on rock’n’roll than a baby boomer could dream of, I’m not bashing millenials. I am bashing the lack of geniune music support alt-indie-rock shows.
It upsets me that I also, fell in the obsession of doing everything to look cool on social media.I would get geniunely upset if I didn’t have a cool picture of me from the show to post on tumblr and twitter, I’d get even more upset if my pictures were “far away”; I completely missed the point of a live show, because I felt the need to keep up with pressure.
When I made the decision to quit alt-indie-rock show, I didn’t fully understand why; I just knew that I am not rich enough to spend money on shows where I wasn’t enjoying myself, I really dreaded going to shows for a while because I didn’t want it to be a competiton, I didn’t want to be in a room where most people were standing still and snapchatting, instead of jumping around,dancing and vibing with people who also just love music and the band/artist performing.
I didn’t even know a concert crowd like that existed until I started attending metal shows, that was the awakening of a lifetime, I suddenly remembred why I called concerts, home.
You can queue up for 10+ hours if you wanted, but you could also arrive right at doors and walk up to the barrier too, no one cared, as long as you weren’t being an asshole about it.
Want to scream the lyrics out and jump around? go for it, chances are people will join you!
Want to get a beer half way through the set, go pee, grab a shirt and not lose your spot? chances are you are more than welcome, as long as you’re not blocking anyone’s view
You got pushed down in the mosh? 10 people will rush over to help you up, and make sure you’re okay.
Most importantly, it’s a community. It’s the love of music. I can’t even count the amount of times I saw people just jamming the f*ck out, smiling, making new friends, it was such a good vibe I thought I was going to vomit rainbows at one point. Yes, people were taking pics here and there. Yes, people were snapchatting, but it wasn’t for narcassitic reasons. It wasn’t to have “the coolest gram” or a bloody photoshoot.
No one f*cking cared if you’re an “influencer” (who the hell even calls themself that?) or if you spent everything in your savings to follow the band, it wasn’t a competition, everyone was a fan. Sure maybe, metalhead dudes judge each others patches on their denim, or their choice in beer, but when you’re at a show, you’re at a show and the mentality is “enjoy the goddamnmusic becuase that is what you paid for”
Call me pretentious, but that’s why I fell in love with rock and roll. I fell in love with the community, I fell in love with the inclusivity.
I tried to give the genre/community of the alt-indie-rock scene the benefit of the doubt, maybe it’s just my city, maybe it’s different elsewhere, but it isn’t! It doesn’t take much instagram creeping to get the vibes from those shows, the kind of people attending it; and sometimes the band themselves.
So let’s answer the question? Do I hate alternative/indie rock music? no, at least not really. I do think quite a few bands are pretentious and quite shit for their ego, however, that could be said about any genre. What I sincerely dislike and dare I say hate is their live show environments. I don’t attend shows to be subjected to hierarchies, cliques and all that exclusivity behaviour; So, that’s why I have banned myself from attending the alt-indie-rock shows; and I honestly can’t say that I miss it.
To my friends who still attend those shows, do you feel that pressure too? I would love to open a debate on this topic!
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