Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Growing Enthusiasm for Music and Culture

On the way home from Bonnaroo in the midst of a discussion of 90s pop music, I tried to figure out when
I got into music. I missed a lot of pop music during my childhood (N*SYNC, Backstreet Boys, Brittney
Spears, etc) because I wasn't a part of that scene. I was busy listening to unknown Christian artists like
RAZE or more popular ones like Steven Curtis Chapman. So where was the turning point? How did I
get from RAZE to Battles, Mogwai, Phish, Two Door Cinema Club, Elbow, Radohead, Styx, Supertramp,
The Bravery, SWEET, Bon Iver, S. Carey, and countless others?

Somewhere along the line, I transitioned from the younger generation of Christian artists to more
mainstream artists like The Newsboys (thanks to my brother). Also around this time, my family and
I found a Wang Chung album (on cassette?!) at a library book sale during one of our vacations.

My first concert was sneaking into the end of Festival con Dios to see Newsboys. A year or two
after that (2005 or 2006), I started going to the Purple Door festival. In addition to seeing some
mainstream Christian artists, these festivals were also opportunities to discover lesser-known artists,
such as Joy Electric, Finechina, Brave Saint Saturn, Anathallo, and Seabird. There were also incredible
groups, like mewithoutyou. This exposure to a wider range of music can again be attributed to my
brother, as well as a few specific friends.

This transition period was also influenced by a growing interest in oldies and classic rock. Honestly,
I think my interest in oldies was revealed by Recess: The Movie, which features a number of classic
songs from the hippie era. This interest was synchronized with my resurrection as a pianist, which
was fed by Reader's Digest piano books, many of which consisted of songs from the 20s-50s.
Shortly after this, I was suddenly a hardcore fan of Styx. While I'm not sure how or why this fandom
occurred so abruptly and severely, this later led me to love The Who, Supertramp, Yes, and Genesis.
The musical expansion into oldies and classic rock was supported by one of my best friends and my dad.

Then things get blurry and I really don't know how I got from where I was after attending concerts of
Styx* and The Who; to where I have been recently with concerts of MacROCK 2011, Matt and Kim,
Iron and Wine*; to where I am now after Bonnaroo 2012.
*The Pretenders opened for Styx
*The Low Anthem opened for Iron and Wine
There were definitely a few friends during my time at Bridgewater College who fostered my growing
knowledge of music, but this was mostly through mutual sharing, which means that I was already well
into music before getting more into music with these friends.

So what happened?

While I'm not sure and while the blurry spot between oldies/classic rock and indie/alt will probably
always be blurry, I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I tend to be adventurous, curious, longing
to discover, and continuously interested in culture.

While music is definitely about the music, to me, it is also about the culture. Sometimes, the interest in
culture surpasses the interest in music (or performance). For example, on June 2, I drove through
tornadoes and tsunamis to Baltimore to attend a spoken word concert. My mom asked if it was a
multicultural event and I replied yes, because I was there. Now, in retrospect, this sounds far more
ethnocentric than I intended. What I meant was that, even though I went to this event for the poetry,
I ended up enjoying it even more because of the cultural experience. There is culture in the audience.
There is culture in the words of the performer. There is culture in the music of the performance. There
is culture in the thoughts behind the words and the music. There is culture behind the performer.

There is culture behind that culture.

And this makes sense and starts to sharpen the blur.

At some point in time, I was interested in the culture of Rock Horror Picture Show, so I watched it and
"discovered" the music of Meatloaf. There was a car commercial that utilized the song, Ballroom Blitz,
which my brother and I looked up and I have been a fan of SWEET (as well as the culture surrounding
this band) ever since. One time, when my brother and I we exploring Vermont, we stumbled upon a
radio station and our minds were blown by the deepness of Flobot's Handlebars. This led me to explore
Flobots more and, thanks to another friend, led me to an entire field of politically-outspoken artists and
rappers. My brother was really into Beck's Guero album at one point in time and, once he outgrew that
obsession, I took it over for him and continued it by exploring Beck's older albums (Mellowgold,
Odelay, and Sea Change, thanks to another friend) and later his newer work (The Information). This
exploration allowed me to see how Beck's newer work incorporated culture from his older and more
recent albums.

And so, this interest in culture, along with sharing music with friends (albeit sometimes with undertones
of "I know more bands than you"), has led me to where I am today.


Luna said...

Giiiiiirl we are so much alike. lol But we knew this. Glad to hear your back in my neighborhood (so to speak). We have so much to catch up on...you have much to tell me I'm sure, and I definitely have much to tell you.

Culture is connection and discovery all rolled into one experience.

Luna said...