Wednesday, January 27, 2010

in my time...

when i was in my mid to late teens i spent too many hours in records stores, shows or discussing music with people that liked bands no one has heard of. when i wasn't doing that, i was reading liner notes to see who bands toured with or thanked. you can easily find out about ten to twenty new bands just by reading most thank you lists in a liner note. those were interesting days because there were several music scenes that were really just starting to come to term and give birth to new exciting styles (and reinvigorate an old one) of music and bands that would be truly drowning in fans in a few short years. this lovely little scene helped nurture a few little bands like, grade, moneen, boys night out, sum 41, billy talent the list is so long and illustrious that several young film makers are making a documentary about the "905 scene". i'll admit now that i'm not endorsing it because the last bit of information i heard about the project has them talking to a host of bands that either weren't in the scene, weren't influential in it, or weren't part of the "golden era" they claim to be representing. hats off to them for the attempt and i wish them well but i hope i'm mistaken about their interview focus.

now the funny part about this scene was that it was made up of a bunch of kids that were into so many different kinds of music it was almost overwhelming. this was unlike any group of people i'd been a part of before because everyone i knew till then was locked firmly in whatever belief system came with the style of music they identified with. hip hop kids were interested in partying, making money and dressing like thugs. punk rock kids were skating, smoking and thinking of new and interesting ways to use their parent's money for anarchy's sake. ravers got high. ginos/housers drove around in crappy souped up cars and picked fights at dance clubs. of course this is a broad generalization but you get the picture. i knew two punk kids that were interested in doing more than getting drunk and being "punk". yet somehow this group of kids that comprised much of the "905" scene were about human rights, feminism, veganism, living drug free, monogamists or fully abstained from sex (some of the kids said they were born again virgins.) there were so many cultural/political/sociological theories and ideas floating around that it was hard not to want to be involved and make the world a better place. my commitment went as far as humanism, feminism and veganism. sxe always seemed preachy to me.

as for the music, these shows were hardcore shows. that word has been thrown around a lot but at the time hardcore really was it's own style of music. it was metal but not. it was punk, but it wasn't. it was a bunch of kids screaming their lungs out in church basements, school gyms, seedy bars, someone's back yard or a field. it was an attempt to take control of a world that a number of young people felt increasingly disconnected from. it was angry at times and beautiful others. it was raw and heartfelt and laid people bare. it was community and family. then limp bizkit and korn fucked it up and turned it into a frat boy pissing contest.

whilst bullshit male posturing was still taking centre stage, some sensitive, intelligent older "hardcore kids" started playing a style of music that came to be known as emotional hardcore, or "emo" for short. love it or hate (and most people hate it these days) emo has become as mainstream as any other safe, watered down and banal style of music. unlike many other styles of music that would come out of the various under ground scenes, emo had very little to rally around. the music itself started out of former hardcore kids deciding that singing about politics was boring and it would be more interesting for them to write songs about their wives, their experiences as adults and just mature as song writers in general. the music itself was really just slowed down punk music at first and sounded like pretty standard rock music. the chord progressions followed closely with punk and hardcore punk and gave emo a somewhat edgy sound at first. after several years of bands that sounded like what most people call "indie rock" emo started turning into a look more than a sound. as emo gained more popularity and slowly became part of the public lexicon, the music took a back seat entirely as any message emo tried to carry with it in the beginning became a distant memory. emo has since become an insult for most people and most bands. true to the ignorance of young people common insults thrown around in public might include "you emo fag" or something similar.

it's hard hearing people say things like this when that music was such a big part of my life. it's pathetic to watch something you once loved be turned out and prostituted to the point that it no longer resembles what it once was. perhaps i'm romanticizing it but i remember a friend of mine trying to explain emo to me when i first heard about it. i didn't understand what the point of it was because i was to firmly entrenched in my ways. music was supposed to be loud, angry and fast for me. something sweet and emotional didn't sound like fun. my friend simply said, "it's softer and about relationships usually but has as much feeling as any hardcore show. just come out and you'll see kids going just as crazy." and they did. i saw just as much floor punching and chest beating and screaming at the top of lungs at those shows because those kids were just as emotionally invested in songs like tinfoil as they were in past our means.

i guess what i'm trying to say is that i've seen some things and while it would be easy to dismiss the new generations of music as derivative and boring there are countless interesting things still being made every day and all art is derivative these days and has been for a lot longer than i've been alive. it seems like people aren't as interested or never were very interested in finding out where these cultural artifacts came from and how they developed which is truly a shame.

rant over.

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