Thursday, April 18, 2013

"Grow a Pair" or "Grow Up": can music do both?

A blog by Kitty Vincent called "Hey Kids, Grow a Pair: How Music Blogs Neutered Indie Rock," was put on my radar by an old friend from Vancouver today through the social networks.

It was a good read, proof that there are always exceptions to the rule, and the author herself acknowledges the irony of writing about it in blog form (as, well, I guess am I)....

I wholeheartedly agree with the community element; what makes rock scenes happen is when there are bands that support each other, go to each other's shows, and play in each other's bands, with no real "professional" goals; it's just about making great music and art with your peers. The industry is always, always playing catch-up to this. I've had real-life experiences of this both in Vancouver when I was there, and now in Toronto and its surrounding areas.

I've thought about this issue a lot lately, and talked to a lot of other musicians about it....

After Kurt Cobain died, a lot of people in the industry pretty much said, "We're not taking a risk with our money and livelihood anymore by investing into and dealing with people who are angry, emotional, sensitive, and potentially unstable again." Not the least of which, financially-speaking, may have had to do with the advent of downloading.

What they missed in the process, however, is that it is precisely those angry, alienated, real-life human beings are the ones who make the most genuine and kick-ass rock 'n' roll. And sometimes, like in Kurt's case, the commericalization of their art can result in things like, well, drugs, depression, and suicide....

Think back (or read back if you were born after 1987): after Kurt, what was considered "alternative"? It was dudes in press photos wearing touques and sunglasses, sitting in coffee shops eating scrambled eggs and toast, making music that was cleaner, safer, and more adult contemporary. Stuff that both you and your parents could listen to together. It wasn't that Black Flag record that pissed your dad off every time you put it on, that's for sure. It was, for many people, a conservative (financially and economically) response to what happened with Kurt, which simultaneously shut out a lot of the "rock," that has changed all of our lives in some way, from avenues that typically gave them a wider audience.

Moving, challenging, and genuine art (in the form of rock 'n' roll) is still out there. We tend to think we just have to dig a little harder to find it -- but chances are it's right in our backyards, our local record stores, and our local clubs. Hell, your friends may even be the ones making it.

Relish in that possibility!