Written by Kyle DiRaddo
It is a wonderful time to be a music fan; especially if you fall into the all-encompassing, boundary-shattering world of “jam”. Never before has there been such an influx of diverse and unwavering creativity in our scene. The sheer number of bands and artists out there now is a great indicator of how far we’ve come since the likes of The Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers Band began laying the groundwork way back in that groovy decade known as the 60’s. That was pretty much it back then and, while those are some hella good options, what we have today was probably unfathomable to Phil and Billy and Duane and Dickie.
We have a dizzying array of musical routes to take nowadays. You’re feeling nostalgic and want to tap into a bygone era of improvisational rock and roll? Dead and Co. or one of a plethora of other Dead-inspired bands should do the trick. You’d rather have your face melted with screeching guitar solos and not-so-subtle 80’s arena rock nods? The boys in Umphrey’s McGee have got you covered. Hell, let’s take it a step farther. Are you looking to womp your brains out and head bang until you’ve forgotten most of how long division works? Look no further than Bassnectar, my friend. The point is we have options and they are abundant.
With all of these choices at our literal fingertips, you might think that everything would be rainbows and butterflies in our little community. The truth is, while in a lot of ways that’s accurate (and at certain shows you will actually see people dressed up as both rainbows and butterflies…or some nightmare inducing combination of the two), there is a side of the scene that can be a little less sparkly.
Haters are an unfortunate part of a lot of facets of life, but in this particular facet which was, for all intents and purposes, launched by a bunch of tolerant, free-thinking hippies, it takes on a particularly nasty vibe. Instead of trying to dive into why this hate exists and where it comes from where I can almost guarantee I would have come off sounding like a pretentious douche (though I still might), I have decided to identify several of the most heinous culprits.
Imagine a hardcore EDM fan going to check out a bluegrass show or vice versa. Now imagine those two fans comparing their favorite artist in their respective favorite genres to the show they are seeing and expecting a similar experience, not receiving it, and ultimately not enjoying themselves. And then they talk about it…to anyone who will listen…willing or not. Obviously, those are extreme examples, but it happens. Some people will come to a show, not have a great time, and complain about the band on stage the entire time. I can understand not digging the band and you’re only there because your pals brought you, but maybe keep your snarky remarks about the mandolin being a dumb instrument or the drops being too loud to yourself.
Even though this term has become synonymous with fans who saw Phish pre-first hiatus, I am in no way looking strictly in that direction. I’m going to broad brush this to include those folks who feel the need to tell you just how much better any particular band was before a specific era in that band’s history. I can’t help it that I wasn’t born in a year that would have allowed me to see (insert musician’s name here) during that tour back in (insert year here) when he/she was really exploring the depths and nuances of (insert album here). It was probably really cool, but I’m trying to enjoy the show I’m seeing right now. I will politely listen to how and why it sucks I am only getting to see this band now and not back in the day, but let’s do it in the lot over a beer.
Love the Band, Hate the Fans
Is it possible to love a band, but have the exact opposite feeling toward their fan base when you yourself should probably be counted among their ranks? Yes, it is entirely possible. Certain fan bases, fairly or otherwise, have garnered reputations as being a little difficult to be around while in the throes of getting after it. Whatever the rep and reason behind it, there are always going to be those people who want you to know they’d be having a great time if the other attendees weren’t so busy being however it is they are. These cats won’t always be verbal in their disapproval. Their disdain might come in the form of eye rolling or that face I make when I think about making out with someone eating a mouthful of Doritos, but rest assured their good time is being hindered because the kid in the flat brim in front of them is dancing outside of his pre-designated zone.
While of a similar make-up to certain pockets of 1.0ers, self-deprecators cannot and will not be pleased by anything going on anywhere around them. These cranky Carls have more than likely been a “fan” of their particular band for years and will attend every show they can, sometimes even full tours, and not have a single good thing to say about the music they’ve seen. It could be that the songs that night weren’t the right ones and they certainly weren’t placed correctly in the set. Maybe the drummer missed a 32nd note and the bass was a quarter step flat all night. Maybe the lawn at the venue was too steep and your blanket got damp because there was too much condensation on your beverage of choice due to higher than normal humidity levels. It begs the question: why buy the ticket if you’re going to suck the joy out of the very air being breathed around you? Maybe find a new band…or take up Bridge.
I Hate This Band with the Fire of a Thousand Suns
There are small factions of Heads out there who just seem to hate a particular band for reasons unbeknownst to the rest of us. Whether it’s Twiddle, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, or even The Disco Biscuits, some people are just going to blindly hate and usually not give a reason why. Some of these folks will even drop their animosity into conversations that had nothing to do with the targets of their ire in the first place. I offer you now a dramatic interpretation of what these conversations sound like:
Person 1: Hey, man, did you catch the game last night?
Person 2: Fuck Twiddle!
Their abhorrence runs deep and it can appear all-consuming. God forbid you bring up one of these bands around one of these people because you will be opening a Pandora’s box of well-scripted hate speech the likes of which would make even the Proudest Boy uncomfortable.
Bonus Hater: My Favorite Band is The Best Band in the World!
Yes, it sounds like a ten year old made that title, and it doesn’t sound much better in real life when a fan is so blinded by their love for a band that they can’t possibly believe that they just aren’t someone else’s taste. Instead of just leaving the conversation at “I don’t like their music,” the super fan will protest about how you just don’t understand real music and your taste must be in [insert popular band to hate here]. If you easily get worked up at the mention of someone disliking a band, please stop taking it so personally, and consider that someone is just pushing your buttons. You know, like when you’re 10 years old and someone figures out what annoys you on you the playground.
It is important to remember that, for the most part, show-going folks are decent people. They’re there in large part for the same reason you are: to enjoy some tunes and feel like they’re connected to something bigger than themselves. And to party. There are always going to be a few bad apples in the bunch. Not everyone is going to enjoy every aspect of every show and sometimes they are going to let those opinions be heard. It is my hope that after reading this, you’ll be able to spot them a little easier and adjust your pre-designated dancing zone accordingly.