Thursday, September 29, 2011
The Fan Killed The Band
In a perfect world:
Music lovers live in perfect harmony. They never step on each other toes. Never get into frivolous conversations about bands being "real" music or just "pop" songs. They never say stupid phrases or label anything "Pop music." Music is shared passion and love and everyone sees the value in any form of music(as long as its not little kids in a closet singing bad folk songs aka "Rosa").
And everyone lives happily ever after bobbing their heads to their chosen bands and respects the other music listeners taste in music.
Ah... Yeah, right. Like that will ever happen.
When anything is a passion of yours, it makes complete sense that hours of your life will be spent talking about it, and believe me, I've spent my fair share yapping about good ole music. Most of the time its conversations about how this album is one of your favorites right now, or how you really want to hear that new La Dispute record (WHICH DROPS THIS TUESDAY!). But then every now and then you get in one of THOSE conversations...
You know the ones I'm talking about...
The ones where people get on their high horses and start making extreme proclamations:
"There's no value in Grunge music."
"Country music has no talent in it."
"Taylor Swift is a no talent sleaze bag, who only is famous because of her rich daddy."
You know you've heard these things, and you know, if you're a music lover, you've probably caught yourself saying things like this while maturing into your musical adulthood.
My mouth normally just drops whenever somebody goes into their pretentious spiels about Ms. Swift or Nickelback and the gang being completely untalented. My insides start to tense up and then it happens. My head starts to replay violent things I could do to that person (much like the scene in High Fidelity when Rob's enemy walks into the record store). It drives me crazy whenever somebody says the word "Talentless" when referring to music. If its not your taste, that is fine, but talentless, it is not.
The two I just mentioned, Taylor Swift and Nickelback, I feel I've defended them until I've been red in the face way TOO many times. I'm not even a huge Taylor Swift fan, but she deserves what she has received. She has busted her butt and wrote great songs. Talentless? Wrong. She has way more talent than you mr. pretentious music critic. Now, Nickelback seems to be the pun of many jokes (even ones made by myself), but Talentless? I think not. They have created a sound and they continually put out a product that their fans know and love. Its like buying an AC/DC record, if you liked the first album, you're gonna like the new album.
Hours upon hours of my life have been spent in deep conversation about "real" music, and honestly, I love it. Theres a piece of me that loves just sitting and talking out opinions and either broadening my musical outlook, or helping someone else broaden theirs.
But the thing that drives me crazy...
The thing that I really can not stand...
Is when the fans kill a band.
No, I'm not talking like, Dimebag Darryl style (Dimebag was gunned down at his own show because of a crazed Pantera fan being upset at his departure from said band). No, I'm talking about when the fans become so enthralled with their bands that they become pretentious to the max, letting things fall out of their mouths like, "If you don't like ____ then you don't like music."
If you have never run into this before, then God bless you, but anyone whose been around a hardcore Death Cab for Cutie or Radiohead fan knows exactly what I'm talking about....
About 7 years ago, I first heard of this up and coming band "Death Cab for Cutie" from my big brother figure, Brett McReynolds. He would rave on and on about them and wear their band t-shirts when he worked in my backyard pulling books with my dad and I. So my first impression with the band was a very good one. I was really into my "heavy" phase of my musical journey at that time, so "Death Cab" didn't really interest me as much as the new Stone Sour record or Three Days Grace records did (What?! 102.9 The Buzz was my only outlet for finding new hard rock and metal acts!). But still, my stomach didn't turn at the thought of Death Cab at that time.
Years later, as I was growing up, I kept meeting these "Death Cab" fans. These kids who wore skinny jeans, raved about Sufjan stevens, and had "Plans" all memorized. I noticed a pattern amongst all of these, said '"fans." We would start talking music, they like this and that, and then they'd say, "But my favorite band is Death Cab for Cutie." I would then sigh. "What? You don't like Death Cab?" And then that phrase would fall out of their mouths, "If you don't like Death Cab for Cutie than you don't appreciate music."
Whenever I would hear that I would flip.
Get off your high horse, you skinny jean wearing-coffee drinking-facial hair growing-Ben Gibbard worshipping-baboon!
And I constantly heard it until I was 18 and stopped caring.
But because of the fans... the band was always a turn off for me. Seeing their name, or hearing someone list them in one of their favorite acts, made me look at the people differently (haha as shallow as that is, its true).
I've recently gotten over my disgust for the band. Honestly, they are a phenomenal band that I truly believe can stand the test of time and become something that is remembered. I can't wait to be old and turn on the oldies station and reminisce to Death Cab... just as long as none of their die hard fans are around.
But the fan definitely killed the band for me for a couple of years.
Another band whose fan base is putting a knife to their throat (Not that they need much help) is Radiohead.
Now face it, Thom Yorke and company are brilliant and construct some really great songs, but Thom Yorke is probably the most pretentious musician I have ever had the displeasure to read interviews from. Sometimes musicians should just let their art talk for them. So the root of their fan base's pretentiousness probably does come from the lead singer himself, but it still doesn't justify the actions of their fan base.
One thing I remember the most was when Radioheads label released a greatest hits on iTunes.
In music, a Greatest Hits collection normally means a band is leaving the label and the label is trying to pinch a little bit more money out of them, or that the band is on their way out or on a hiatus. Well a couple years ago, a greatest hits was released for good ole Radiohead and the fans when crazy! I sat and read all of the comments posted on the day of the release. Most of them sounded like this: "Don't buy this!" "The man is trying to put the band down." "Corporate America at best." "Thom wouldn't support this!" They were freaking out about their beloved having a greatest hits releasing. REALLY?! Its just a greatest hits. You clearly already owned their discography, so you have no use for a greatest hits anyway.
I, being the jerk I am, wanted to buy the greatest hits only to piss the crazed fans off.
But decided my money could be better spent elsewhere, like mcdonalds, or by giving it to a hobo.
The last band I'll mention who have fans working more against them then for them, is Acacia Strain. Whereas the before mentioned bands somewhat fall into the same category of music and fans, Acacia Strain is a completely different genre. Acacia Strain is a hardcore band I saw a couple years back on a tour with Impending Doom and August Burn Red. The band themselves are one of the heaviest and tightest hardcore groups I've had the pleasure of watching. They demanded your attention every second of the show and got the whole crowd moving.
But even before The Acacia Strain took the stage, the kids adorning Acacia Strain shirts were already being overly aggressive in the crowd. The dance pits of course were in full swing, but these kids had no problem throwing their arms into people repeatedly as they danced. It was watching male testosterone completely unadulterated and completely uncontrollable and down right scary at times.
The worst of it came when Acacia Strain took the stage. The band on stage was killing it, but their fans were out of control...
I watched as a 20 something year old man came running towards a group of girls that was standing outside of the dance pit, his eyes were large with intensity and his arms were swinging. I watched as his arm made contact with a little girl. Without an apology or anything for punching the little girl, the man continued on his way creating havoc with the rest of his fellow testosterone morons.
I was shocked. I had never seen this type of behavior in the hardcore scene before. Sure its rough, and its tough at times and bloodly lips happen, but there's a brotherhood mentality in hardcore, its a tight group of people who normally end up hugging each other before and after each show. They aren't there to cause harm, to hurt people, not like these kids were. These kids were there to cause as much pain as they could to their favorite band...
As lame as it is, that experience really makes me dislike the band a little bit.
Its not a fair thing to pin against a band. They can't control their fans. They really can't do anything but push out their music and control themselves.
But I find it amazing how much weight the fans really do carry when it comes to how people see a band sometimes.
So that perfect world I was talking about, "Where people always recognize some form of value in music..."
It doesn't exist.
I wish I could say differently, but it doesn't.
And part of me is glad, I love a little bit of debate when talking about music, but when it comes to dealing with pretentious people, I can't do it.
So while you are deep in your musical conversations, and you start to get into arguments about which band is "better", remember that you are representing your said band in your conversation. If you truly want to turn someone on to a band... Don't kill the band before they even get a chance to hear it.
Media Associated With This Post:
Song: You are a Tourist
Artist: Death Cab for Cutie
Album: Codes and Keys