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The Infuriating Pretension of the Tragically Hip

November 11, 2008 - Wes Burns
Agresno-grind-core!

Slash-Black-Metal!

Noise-Core!

If you understood any of those saying then congratulations, you just might be a hipster.

To the rest of us that don't know what recognize those words but not when their in that order these are a few of the seemingly endless supply of musical genres that are created, recognized and embraced by the American Hipster. Sure it might seem shallow and obsessive to attempt to categorize every increment of a musical genre but the Martini-Class of citizens is always happy to explain the subtle nuances of each while simultaneously expounding on your ignorance of each one.

You've seen the hipsters before. They gather around martini bars and record shops, they wear their ironic t-shirts while spending $11 on pasta because its "organic", they will spend the entire day decrying the "wasteland of television" all while constantly updating their facebook pages with stickers of bands you just couldn't possibly care about.

Normally my hipster rage is held in check. I also enjoy some bands that have not made it into the national consciousness and some of my shirts could be considered ironic in the right light. Unfortunately I had a massive dose of hipster this weekend and the after effects have yet to wear off.

I went to a concert in Ames on Saturday. The band is called Oh My God and I listened to them a lot in college. A lot. They are out of the Chicago area and I was happy to see that, after an extended hiatus brought on by a massive car accident, they were back to touring.

I'm not quite sure how to describe the band's music. Its quite energetic, as is their stage show, and inspires normal people to dance around erratically, often the leading cause of spilled drinks and smashed feet.

It had been a long time since I had seen them and I had forgotten how much I enjoyed their show. I also had forgotten how much I loathed the other people in attendance. It seems that the concert goer of choice was to be the hipster.

With their obtuse political statements and painfully unfunny mustaches these people set about to ensuring that 1) they would be recognized by the band and 2) that other people in the audience should recognize them as well. Infuriating.

Aside from their almost comically predictable attire what I disdain most about the hipster is their ungrounded belief that their idea needs to be shared in a public setting. This is fine if they want to read bad poetry over a crackling mic at some coffee house but, alas, this was not the issue.

When a small band in a small venue gets quiet on stage, this is not a cue to yell something addressed at the band members using their first names in a pale attempt to distance yourself from the rest of the audience while acknowledging your deep, personal friendship with the performers.

People that do this are the exact same people that yell the lines in movies that we've all seen from the trailers. These are the people that will yell the punch lines to a stand up comedian's jokes during the set up. These people need to shut up. No one wants to hear from you. Sit down.

Maybe if one of them yelled anything interesting it might be different. But they don't. They open their mouths only to loudly declare some comment that is the intellectual contemporary of "FREE BIRD!!" I actually heard one tight-pantsed hipster yell "there's an alumnus amongst us" at this show. If it hadn't been for my friend Molly's snickering at my rage I'm not quite sure what would have happened.

If you want to dance at a concert be my guest. If you want to stand at the back of the room with your arms folded while subtly yet rhythmically nodding your head that's fine too. If you want to stand at the front of the stage and just stare at the band then go right ahead. If you think that somehow your clumsy, awkward comments will enhance the enjoyment of everyone present than take a little advice and just sit down and sip your martini; the rest of us are trying to enjoy the show.

 
 

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