Over the course of time – both while running Lehigh Valley Underground, and in The Quinn Spinn’s previous run – I’ve encountered quite a few people who don’t quite grasp the concept of enjoying and discovering indie music. Surely, they believe, those of us on the indie scene only are here as a revolt against “the machine.” We only explore indie music to feel unique, and to set ourselves apart from our peers by knowing about something that they don’t.
In other words, we’re all hipsters. We have to be, right?
I am here to drop some knowledge on all those who dismiss indie music as a pretentious counterculture and who, by proxy, regard those who support it as full-blown hipsters.
While I cannot speak for everyone, I can assure you that most of us are not here because what we hear on the radio is “too mainstream” for us. True, we may not agree with much of what goes on in the music “business” – please do me a favor and Google Dr. Luke, if you think everything and everyone in Top 40 is as without fault as one of his impeccably auto-tuned songs – but the majority of us are savvy enough to not dismiss something as soon as we hear it on FM radio.
Personally, I love plenty of mainstream artists. Bon Jovi, one of the most egregiously mainstream bands of all time, was my favorite from age 13 up until a couple years ago, and they remain near the top. In case you’re wondering, Our Lady Peace has supplanted Bon Jovi as my favorite, and they’ve had their share of mainstream success here in the U.S., as well (and they’re still huge, regularly headlining festivals in their native Canada). I’m listening to Macklemore right now who, if you haven’t heard, has been quite popular with the kids over the past few years (and I was actually late to that party). On the flip side of that equation, while Twenty One Pilots became a revelation to me before their recent, arena-packing explosion, their spike in popularity did not make me like them any less. If anything, I’m happy that their music is reaching more people than ever, because I think it needs to reach the world.
The Killers. Linkin Park. Incubus. Weezer. I could go on. The point is, the artists who have helped me form my musical tastes are *gasp* all mainstream! I know, I know: how dare I, as the head honcho of an underground hipster blog, like any of that manufactured rubbish? I better turn in my fake glasses, scarf and fixie immediately!
Ha! My glasses are real and necessary to tolerate my abundance of screen time, and I don’t even know how to ride a bike, let alone a fixed-gear one! The joke’s on you!
But for real, ask most people on this indie grind with me, and they’ll probably tell you a similar tale. Not about glasses or bikes, necessarily, but about their tastes.
See, most of us indie music supporters are not above what’s popular. We just think critically about what we’re listening to, and are able to distinguish, in our own minds, what’s good from what isn’t, regardless of its popularity with the youth these days. We also realize that there’s an endless supply of undiscovered music out there, in any genre you can think of, as good as or better than the popular artists of today and yesterday (If you’d like, I’m happy to provide you plenty of examples). In that case, why pigeonhole ourselves into only hearing what the major labels have to offer, when the world is quite literally at our fingertips?
To come to that realization, however, one must keep an open mind to seeking out new music, new artists, and new experiences. That’s what life is about after all – learning, growing, and expanding your horizons. You did it by trying the new Thai food joint down the street last week. Why not let your ears in on the action?
I and many others like me take pride in our decisions to educate ourselves on the world outside of our respective bubbles. It’s a good road to travel, and all are welcome to join the journey.