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Monday, July 17, 2006

(The Gym is) Neutral Territory

So Eric and Amy saw Lifetime over the weekend (review and photos here). As I ponder how envious I am of their experience, I think about how much this band has been name-checked in the last few years. Without running a laundry list, I think about what usually happens when popular bands name-check relatively obscure bands. Some may cry foul about such, but why is that a bad thing, especially in the case of a band that has been broken up for a long time?

One of the most cross-referenced bands of my generation is the Pixies. I think the main reason why is because Kurt Cobain once claimed that "Smells Like Teen Spirit" sounded like a Pixies song. For us listening to White Lion and Vanilla Ice when Doolittle and Bossanova came out, we probably wouldn't have understood the hoopla about the Pixies. Yet for us who went through the filter that Nirvana showed us, we would understand in due time.

With Lifetime, bands like Saves the Day, Fall Out Boy and Taking Back Sunday have sung praises of the band. Hell, Saves the Day's first album was an intentional nod to Lifetime's rip-roaring melancholy punk rock. With these bands paying homage to the band in print and on record, the possibilities of introducing younger people to Lifetime are pretty large. Of course there are the people that are just into the bands of the moment and don't really care more than just the music. However, for those that are curious about who the younger bands are inspired by, they are more than likely going to hear about a band like Lifetime.

At South By Southwest this year, Lifetime played a free show with My Chemical Romance. There were plenty of teenagers there, but there were plenty of people my age too. Sure, there is percentage of people my age that just don't get My Chemical Romance and I'm sure there's a percentage of young people that just don't get Lifetime. Regardless, hearing about the show made me really happy. People my age and younger music fans were having a great time as Lifetime kicked out several gems from Hello Bastards and Jersey's Best Dancers. As weird as it would sound to have both a skinny teenager dressed up like a glammy vampire and a 28-year-old with a Hot Water Music tattoo on his arm wanting to see Lifetime, I think that's awesome.

I won't lie: seeing sold-out shows with a large number of young people acting like they are there to hang out and be seen can be a bummer. That's what happens when a large crowd is attracted to a band at a point in time, but I gotta remember that not everyone is there for the scenery.

I remember when I first saw face to face in '97. I wore my Foo Fighters shirt and I received a rather nasty little look from a guy. While that guy's expression stands out to me more than anyone else's, I must remember that so many others at that same show could really give a rat's ass about what I was wearing and what music I listened to at the time. There is a sense of territoriality with fans of music that has somewhat of a limited mainstream appeal, especially in punk and hardcore. You may see some jazz geeks roll their eyes at Kenny G fans at a Charlie Hunter show, but they aren't about to flip them off as they talk about how music was so much better in '84.

The point is, I understand people not wanting mainstream influences to come into areas they find personal and sacred. However, when the ticket says, "All ages," that doesn't mean "Only for fans of this music that understand the history of the band, their music and what to do and what not to do at a show." The door is open for anyone that wants to come in (save for shows that are 17+ or 21+). With the beauty of hearing music on record or MP3, anyone can hear this music. Not to sound like a tree-hugging hippie, but having a crossover with a band where a wide variety of people "get" who the band is well, awesome.

2 comments:

fuzzbuzz said...

Nice point, after all playing music is a lot like tossing a ball out there. Whoever catches it will catch it. Its always a nice suprise when the person who catches it isn't the person you thought might.

Useless Man said...

I can't stand when one band member keeps touring with the band name. Nothing worse than expecting Peter, Paul and Mary, and only Mary shows up.

What good is Puff the Magic Dragoin when all you hear is Mary singing her part, "Puff.... Dragon ... Sea... "

Umm... I used to be cool..