A Festival of Squares

Belated recognition that one-size-fits-all music festivals suck.  However, bloke in this article is having a moan:

Festivals and weddings used to be one of the few places where different generations and different types of people came together.

“I don’t think it’s like that any more and it’s a shame really. You go somewhere now and it’s specifically aimed at you and your type of mates and there are other places aimed at other groups in society. You don’t really have that cross-generational thing.”

Saville agrees. “There’s a lot of snobbery around clubland and commercialisation of house music but there should be a degree of open-mindedness in clubbing,” he said. “Dance music was always hinged on everyone being allowed to feel comfortable in their own skin, whatever gender or class they were.”

Article <here>

This may be true of dance music – if your only reference point starts from ’90s rave culture.  However, this eclecticism is relatively recent and arguably confined to dance music.  Or, what yer man means by dance music.  70s disco was dance music and it attracted a very specific audience.

I was once accosted by some right-wing skinheads.  “Are you a punk or a mod?”, they wanted to know.  I talked my way out of it, but the wrong answer would have gotten me a hiding.  Once, on a late train, a bunch of punks were being a bit noisy.  Other passengers fled the carriage.  I went down and said hello.  We had a great chat about the system, about Holts spray cans for graffiti, about whether glue or hair gel was best and about Dead Man’s Shadow’s new album. They looked a bit scary, but because they had fantastic Mohicans, I just knew they were basically sound.

Couple of years ago, outside the Opera House in Belfast, I walked past a bus full of young people going to a local music festival.  The lads all looked very stupid.  50p haircuts, grey branded tops, grey incontinence pants.  Lagered-up, sniggery, loutish, thick as planks.  I know music and I know music fans.  Those cretins were not music fans.   The girls all looked very stupid.  Hairspray, fake tan, high heels, incessant vacuous giggling.  These empty-headed dullards were not music fans.

They were exactly the type of brain-dead, right-wing assholes I partly got into punk rock to avoid.  The idea that you could go to a music festival somewhere and see these vicious, tone-deaf cnuts everywhere depressed me.

I enjoy gigs for two reasons:

– For the band and the music
– To be among your musical tribe

Modern music festivals tend to be eclectic.  I still shudder at the memory (I wasn’t at it) of an Irish festival in the 00s that featured Madonna and Iggy Pop – at the same event.  How is that even legal?

Previously, you had gigs and you had line-ups for a festival.  In a gig, the support would be from the same tribe as the lead act.  In an e.g. metal festival, if you had Twisted Sister, you could be sure to find two other metal acts in tow.

It was great to go to such events.  It’s like going to a bike show or agricultural machinery show or classic car show.  You’re among people you have something in common with and everyone gets along and you can chat about your obsession with like-minded idiots.

But just imagine going to an agricultural machinery show and finding it full of townies sniggering about farmers.  Or finding your classic car show taken over by vegan cyclists.  Or conversely!  Or going to see an indie rock band at a festival and finding yourself among 3000 Chelsea fans and UKIPpers chanting “get your tits out for the lads” at the black female keyboard player or morons having a picnic just when the band is playing an iconic encore that, for you, has an almost-religious significance.

The whole point of popular musical tribes, from the 50s onwards, was to carve out a tribal identity.  Bowie got it.  In ‘Fashion’, when singing about the brand new dance style, he notes, with just the correct amount of suspicion in his voice, that, “they’re doing it over there; but We Don’t Do It Here”:

Pop culture was unashamedly elitist and exclusionary.  That was half the bloody point.  As a student, I often refused to date a woman if she wore the wrong clothes or was into the wrong bands.  If someone wore kitten heel pumps and was into some bland chart shite, seriously, what was the point?  These weren’t trivial signifiers.  You knew you’d disagree with her on everything else as well; and off you went in search of a woman with Doc Martens and sticky-up hair.  You knew you both would have the same views on just about everything.

Hopefully, the new elitism is a trend that will continue.

As <this article> notes, ‘ music taste has become less tribal and more pluralistic than before‎’.

Which is just a polite way of describing those people who ‘like a bit of everything’ and who go to music’ festivals ‘for the crack’. 

Back in the day, I’d have called them scum.

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