Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Some Random Thoughts of Relatively Little Consequence

Being the old guy at the show sometimes gets a little irritating, mostly it just adds to the distance i already perceive between myself and a lot of the human race.

My tour journals are frequently filled with references to the Peter Pan like nature of some local scenes; in parts of the US you are perpetually playing to a different group of under 20 year olds, no matter how often you go back over a period of years.

The biggest drawback of this level of transience is that discussions are sometimes perpetually stuck at entry level, see for example any internet discussion of power violence, something that everyone over the age of 30 was bored of ten years ago. It's hard to build on ideas and concepts if everything has to cycle back to the beginning.

Sometimes on tour i feel like i'm the man that time forgot, every year i get older than my audience. There's definitely something that reminds you of your own mortality to be found in touring in an underground band when you get over 30.

I've Been Looking at Everything Backwards Until Recently

The success of the international underground is one of a strange consistency and permenance despite the almost ever changing audience.

The audiences change, but the form of DIY shows stays the same; cram as many of your friends as you can into a small room with no adult supervision and go fucking nuts to a band. There's an undeniable beauty to that kind of simplicity.

The core values and approaches remain consistent despite the transient nature of the audience. It's almost like some kind of tenuous proof that the path many of us in the life have followed and are still following is a vital aspect of existence that's embedded into a wider consciousness. It's music and specifically the culture of music as an atavistic urge. I loosely verbalised an aspect of this eternal nature of ideas in the Blockade song Irrationalism Uber Alles.

Fellow old guy in a band, Sean from Suffering Luna,  sees shows in terms of Victor Turner's concept of Liminality. I'm just going to be lazy and pull a quote from Wikipedia here: Liminality refers "to in-between situations and conditions that are characterized by the dislocation of established structures, the reversal of hierarchies, and uncertainty regarding the continuity of tradition and future outcomes".

There isn't much of a conclusion to be had here other than to say that the comfort i find in underground culture is not to be found in the consistency of the audience (because it isn't consistent), but in the consistency of ideas and approaches.

Shank, 2003, a show that happened a life time ago by hardcore standards


WillH said...

The impressive thing about this underground culture is that its traditions are still mostly passed down orally and executed (for the most part) without how-to guides. There's no "three ring binder" of hardcore/death metal to tell you how to book/play/enjoy shows. It's a very resilient cultural virus (meme?).

I actually just remembered that you wrote a how-to guide. What something like that does is lower a barrier to entry while at the same time guiding the reader.

I don't read a whole lot of zines because I can't buy a whole lot of them. So maybe I'm off-base here.

How would you say the internet has affected discourse at underground shows? Do people know more/less what they're talking about?

Survivalist said...

i'm just going to quote Jamie Thomson of Shank from a chapter in an upcoming book about 90s UK hardcore:

"What set us apart? Hmmm …. when I think about the bands that we had the closest relationships with – Minute Manifesto, Scalplock, Hernandez, Catharsis, Iron Lung, Canvas, Shikari, AVO, John Holmes, Red Right Hand – people that I would regard as peers, we were all pretty bloody unique, except Shank were maybe drunker and grumpier when we turned up for gigs than anyone else. But if I were to make a grand pronouncement about my band, and that loose-knit group of like-minded groups as a whole, we were the jaggy edges of hardcore that made the scene that much more interesting before the dread hand of internet homogenisation came into play, and smoothed it all away."

The Thing That Should Not Be said...

Drunker and grumpier than Peet? Was that even possible?

I know where you're coming from and in fact when i find myself enjoying music made by people I know to be significantly younger than me, I'm pretty unlikely to go to a gig by 'em, as it's a fair bet thte audience will be a bunch of kids with zero idea of how to behave at shows.
I went to see Klaxons (yeah, I know) a few years back and by christ were there some little cunts in their audience. So count yer blessings Old Man River, it's much worse out there on the fringe of 'mainstream'.

Also, I'd like just once for someone to get the name right - redrighthand. One word, lowercase. Bah.

WillH said...

What's the book gonna be called? Who wrote it?

Ryan Page said...

As someone who tends to hang out with individuals older than myself, I've seen a number of people decide its time to "grow up" and listen to God Speed You Black Emperor or whatever (I'm probably dating myself with even that reference).

Anyway, yeah, it is frustrating, typically its the people that make the scene the most childish that give up and fucking complain about dumb punk kids. I've been told that a previously self-described anarchist friend had been posting shit on the internet like "hardcore idiots make me glad I sold out", and I think "Hey, who's the guy who played in the band named after world destruction by food product?"

A certain part of me wants to write it off as people who are really set on creating a narrative of their life that sounds interesting, and so maybe they're not the best people to have around anyway, but I know exactly what you mean about the scene. Its like Groundhog Day every 6 months or so. How can you characterize a scene that continues to thrive with an age cap of 25?

I've also noticed that in certain environments I've been treated more like I'm "too old for that sort of thing". Graduate school feels like that. Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is that it requires the breaking of some social code where you either really have to care about the music, or simply not care about the social ramifications.

I guess I feel bad even having an opinion on this at age 21, but after being involved with this scene for eight or nine years I have seen so many people come and go that I feel insanely old.

WillH said...

Page can feel the hardcore in his weak old bones

Absurd Exposition said...

Ryan, I think having an opinion on this at 21 is completely valid. There's kids I grew up with when I was 14 and 15 who by the time they were 19 or 20 had already moved on. Some of those people were definitely responsible for getting me into a lot of hardcore I might have missed out on, and therefore wouldn't be posting here without them, but I guess for those people once they were anything but "-teen", it was time to "grow up" or move on. I for one hope that they did grow up, because there's a lot of 20 somethings in hardcore that need to.

An 8 or 9 year stretch like you say in your case, I think equates to a long time by today's standards. Probably by any era's standards.


fucking timeless and killer, go for the throat

Sean Socco said...

Yeah, the liminalism wikipedia quote hit something about what yr saying on the head.

"uncertainty regarding the continuity of tradition and future outcomes"

Isn't that exactly how you feel at your first hardcore show as a teenager? But after a couple decades, yr pretty much certain what's gonna happen, and yr pretty much always right. It's why I think people nearly always drop out of the scene before 30. Shows are no longer liminal spaces.

It doesn't bother me at all, though. I mean, part of me is always looking for new ways to recreate liminal spaces for old, jaded people like us, but I'm also happy to create and watch it happen for younger people even if it's not happening for me. It's kinda the experience of being a father or a teacher, which I think is actually a pretty exciting position to be in.

We played a backyard party not too long ago and some little crusty kid went up to our drummer, Patrick, and said, "wow sir, that was amazing!" Of course we teased Patrick about being called "sir" but at the same time it was cool to see some kid who'd probably never listened to any free jazz in his life have his ideas of music opened up by Patrick improvising polyrhythms. The only bummer was when the cops showed up to break up the show, they were our age and tried joking with us like peers. Dicks.

Anonymous said...

is there any way I can still get Joshua Norton Cabal’s ‘Between Two Fires’? It's sold out everywhere I've looked. I prefer a physical copy but digital will do.

Survivalist said...

@ anon, try Hospital records or Swim Harder tapes

@ Sean, this warrants a longer response than i can muster but i still do find unexpected things at shows, it just depends on which part of the world the show is in and the circumstances.

Turning around mid-song to see the meekest dude i've ever known put throwing a mic stand like a spear into the audience without even missing a note was pretty suprising and that only happened a few years ago

Anonymous said...

sold out, but thank you.

Survivalist said...


contact him first if you're not in canada

Anonymous said...

"I only ship within Canada" :(
Thank you, though.

Absurd Exposition said...

hey anon, I'll gladly ship to you if those other guys are sold out. I just list the "only to Canada" thing as it's a thousand times easier to deal with everything that way and half the time people want to buy from other places anyways. just shoot me an email. regardless of where you are it shouldn't cost more than $5 to get it to you.