Monday, August 23, 2010

What Is "Indie" Rock

I'm 42 years old.

Over the years I've listened to a lot of music. I've seen a lot of bands. I've attempted to write and record rudimentary songs. A couple of them aren't half bad!

A long time ago, I taught myself to play guitar (with a friend). I've entered and won (with a different friend) a college talent competition, even though I'm terrified of performing in front of an audience. In fact, I would almost rather die than be asked to perform in public.

As a moderately educated white man, my musical tastes lean toward Indie Rock. If you're not sure what I mean by "Indie Rock," well, I'm thinking about bands like The Smiths, early R.E.M., The Replacements, and more recently, Arcade Fire.

Niche bands. Bands with a cerebral bent. White bands.

Here's my take on "Indie" Rock.

• There's an established social/economic caste in the United States. These families make decisions that affect entire country. They have names like "Bush," "Hilton," and Kennedy." Their children listen to indie rock.
• Indie rock audiences love to watch live music, because it gives them a chance to (a) stand completely still in one spot; (b) smoke cigarettes; (c) not dance.
• Indie rock pretends that black music simply does not exist. Remember the MTV racial controversy of the early 80's? (Basically, MTV refused to play videos by Black artists until an asexual, sanitized Michael Jackson arrived on the scene.) Indie rock continues to avoid any acknowledgement of soul, funk or hip-hop.
• Indie rock is white, but it's beyond "white." It's white, upscale, college-educated and professional.
• If you're the child of an elite U.S. family; you will likely be drawn to indie rock.
• Elite, white audiences in places like France, Spain and Germany, enjoy U.S. indie rock, even though they're inclined to be skeptical of Americans and American culture.
• Indie rock receives disproportionate coverage in the media.
• Fans of indie rock are likely to read books.
• Fans of indie rock are skeptical of religion, capitalism, and The Establishment.
• Indie rock is often about ideas. Large ideas.
• You rarely see African-American faces in the audience at an indie rock show, but you will see Asian, and occasionally Latin faces.

I sincerely hope this helps.