Crowds of kids stand in front of a well-lit band texting and holding bright LED screens arms length in front of their faces. While the band rips on, status updates terrorize the Internet, twitter posts get starred, and chats begin. Why is it that going to a show can’t just be about the music or the experience? Instead it’s all about being checked in or present, cool, and noticed. The only person that should care that you are at the show is you.
I attend and play a fair amount of shows here in Phoenix, Arizona and while our music scene isn’t as good as it once was, it is still a lot better than many cities around the country. We have some pretty solid small, middle, and upper range venues with solid sound and it is pretty easy to catch at least one solid show a week! We also have a range of different scenes within our larger scene. There are great hardcore and metal shows, weird noise acts, and great pop stuff, even solid hip-hop as well. So why is it that I only ever see kids coming out to shows at upper class venues where bands are separated from their viewers and young people are segregated from their older cohorts? What’s the deal with people only showing up to see pitchfork bands when there are better local bands that no one comes out to see? Why are people always on their phones at shows instead of watching an artist they paid to see?
Lots of my friends are moving away to seek better places for independent music, where they can climb out of the obscurity hole because people just “don’t get it” here. While I feel that is somewhat true, I don’t think it is because people don’t want to get it, but because they are caught up with what people think of them. Show goers are insecure and want to be seen just like everyone else is; but why is it that underground music has let itself succumb to some corporate Urban Outfitters and American Apparel standards.
I don’t care what shows you attend; I don’t care what venue you are the mayor of, or what your clothes look like. I just want a music scene where the audience is present and flows independently from social media and mass marketing. People should go to shows because they want to go. People should be a part of something because it is something that can positively benefit them mentally and physically not promote them to followers in a cyber world that for the most part will let you down.
Now I might be a party pooper, but is it too much to ask to have show goers really be there and be a part of something bigger than themselves. Is it too much to ask people to log off for a minute or hour? Either way, I think Phoenix/Tempe/The Valley are great but if we don’t support our talented local artists and embrace them they will all move away. If we don’t genuinely give back to our scene it will slowly go away, and there will only be alcohol and divided media drones left. Support people if they are doing something positive in your community and stretch your dollar and self where you are needed and can help.