HIGH SCHOOL NEVER ENDS (or why I like Slayer and Geto Boys over Animal Collective)
What happened? How did I become alienated from a scene that punk rock helped create? I don’t get the fashion, all the bands sound the same, and don’t get me started on the lyrics. (Let’s just say, Bob Dylan would go “I don’t understand these lyrics”) Even though Fat Mike from NOFX wrote “The Separation Between Church and Skate”, about how punk rock was becoming safe, to me it still can be applied to indie-rock and the scene today. What punk stood for– dissent, anti-authority, anti- conformity, individualism, and thinking for yourself– has been replaced with noodley guitars, horrible metaphors of emotions, rehashed 70’s and 80’s sound (not to mention fashion and drugs) and worst of all, dance music. Indie music nowadays sounds like that mind numbing modern rock, TRL bullshit that made me like punk to begin with. Every show is the same. First some rip off of a Joy Division riff, then dancey drums, and some chant of “yeah” and finally getting the audience to clap hands in unison.
All the dance-punk bands sound like samples of the worst bands of the 80’s, jigsawed together by a Mac with lyrics more absurd than Camus. My mom put it best. “The 80’s sucked then and it sucks now.” I hate that formula shit. I know punk was known for just using three cords, but to us it is like what an old blues man said, “It isn’t how the notes are played, but WHY they need to be played.”
Content: That’s what indie rock is lacking. As Fat Mike said, “Confrontation and politics…Replaced with harmonies and shticks. When did punk rock become so tame? These fucking bands all sound the same!”
Punk was ideal, an attitude you could never lose. In middle school I was a nerdy kid who read sci-fi novels (Doom series, Animal Farm, Star wars: Extended universe, and Phillip K. Dick), comics, and played Magic the Gathering and D and D. So I got picked on all the time at school and on the bus. I was an outcast, a loner, unpopular, and I didn’t care. That’s when my friend Hunter let me borrow his NOFX CD. By the 9th grade I was a punk/ska kid. Nerdy kid no more, now I drank, talked shit, did drugs, and tried to get with punk girls (poorly). Punk was the Hulk of the nerd Bruce Banner. (Yes, a comic reference.) Punk allowed me not only to be an outcast, but also to be proud of one. More importantly, I was feared. Sure we fought about who was “more punk” and fashion played a part, but it was anti-fashion. It was a “fuck you” to preps and kickers, our mortal enemy. You could get beat after a show at Fitz for having blue hair or a mohawk, so it was more about individuality than fashion. The Houston punk/ska scene was fun and there was a weird feeling of community, filled with crazy bands like 30footFALL, Middlefinger, and Bickley, the first punk show my mom took me to at Fitz. I miss that. I miss going to a show and everyone knew everyone, no matter what school you went to. Reagan, Lee, Jones, Waltrip, HSPVA, whatever. (Except Lamar and St. John’s. That where all the poser and preps went.) It was singing “I wanna fuck the pink Power Ranger” (a Bickley song) at the top of your lungs with your best friend and stage diving into the pit. There was the raver scene, but most of the real ravers were old ska kids who were cool and enjoyed the same community feel, unlike the preps and poser who just wanted to get fucked up. Above all, I felt alive and part of something. How does this relate to indie-rock? Well the funny thing is that most of my punk friends from high school hate indie-rock and scenester shit. Most listen to grindcore/metal and hip-hop/dancehall. Also to note, I always noticed that punks always had a cool relation with the thugs. Both of us were poor (mostly) and we both hated the rich ass preps. No wonder that by the time I graduated from high school, I would bump Tupac, Biggie, Geto Boys, Fat Pat, Screw, Wu-tang, Eight ball and MJG, and of course N.W.A and Ice Cube. I could write a whole other essay on the parallels of punk and hip-hop, but lyrically for me, they dealt the same issues: drugs, poverty, making ends, seeing friends die, bitches, and of course bling. (Is there really a difference between an iced out watch and a spiked bracelet?) Indie-rock has no content, no songs about the real world and real life issues.
Life isn’t about unicorns playing Crossfire with ninjas. Not everything is about girls, one-night stands, clubs, being cool, and partying. You know who cared all about that stuff? Preps. Hipsters are the new preps. So the scene is high school all over again, the preps make the music and I am yet again in the corner reading a Neal Stephenson novel and playing my Nintendo DS. Now I listen to metal/grind core, punk, and Hip-hop/screw/nerd core. Now I have gone back to what I was in middle school: A nerd.
That’s why I alienated myself from the scene. The scene isn’t a collection of poor (keyword) misfits, losers, and rejects who just wanted to skate and read comics. It’s all the preps in high school that went to college, finally read a book or two and pretend to be intellectual with music. So, in a real punk rock fashion: THE SCENE CAN FUCK OFF!!!!!!!