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"That's 'Our' Band. Not Yours"

Discussion in 'Rock Lounge' started by Cosmic Harmony, Sep 1, 2014.

  1. Cosmic Harmony

    Cosmic Harmony Senior Member

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    -This is a subject I've been kicking around in my head for some time now so bare with me as I share a bit of my thoughts before opening the floor for discussion.

    A few years ago I somehow got my finger right on the pulse of new great music that would go on to be much more well known and to, various degrees, commercially successful. Florence + The Machine, Against Me!, fun., and Mumford & Sons just to name a few as examples. Prior to their success I shared these artists with everyone I could while going "This is amazing, you have to hear it." but after they actually broke into the mainstream I can't say that I continued to do the same. They had made it and the media and hearsay were sharing with innumerable masses the music that meant so much to me but it was somehow bittersweet and I was never able to understand why until just recently.

    What I wanted was for other people to hear and love a band or album or song the way I did and once it hit the mainstream some people did indeed but the fan-bases became deluded. Metaphorically speaking, it was as though the band's popularity started as a solid and shifted into a liquid and eventually a gas after becoming more popular.

    [​IMG]

    The music is reaching a wider range because the current state is more expansive but there is more dissonance between those core fans and they rarely bump into each other. That's how you can go from the performance A to performance B.


    A.


    B.



    The same band performing the same song with wildly different crowd results. Performance A has a small crowd singing at the top of their lungs to a song that means something to them. Performance B has some people in the front rows singing with 60% of the crowd seeming unmoved. The popularity of the band quite obviously and directly affects who is drawn to them. Casual listeners respond casual and die hard fans are offended at their seeming disinterest in something that means so much them thus created a feeling of resentfulness towards those that they perceive as not being "true fans" and sometimes even the band itself. This can lead to what I'll call Metallica-Syndrome. Claims of "There biggest hit is their worst song", "Their older stuff is better", "They used to be good. They suck now." and other similiar statements stemming from feelings of band ownership can poison the well and create hostility amongst different fans.

    I used to claim that these bands were mine and have a mild case of Metallica-syndrome. Since then my feelings have shifted to a complicated mess of bittersweet feelings. Remorse for the lose of how the band used to be, the quite satisfaction that they were my own little secret to share, and the happiness that they can continue to tour and make music for a long time because of their newer found success just to name a few.

    Ultimately I accept that I have no direct control of what happens to a band but I can just assume the role of a parent taking their child to college. I nurtured and loved them when they were small but it's their time to go out and do whatever they'll end up doing in this great big world with the people they'll happen across. To me, a true fan is someone who will always find a way to love a band no matter what they do and always be there to support them.



    Anyway....that sort of took a different turn than I intended it to take when I sat down to write it. So what are everyone's thoughts on band ownership and the duality of longtime, hardcore fans and mainstream, casual fans.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2014
  2. Lost Little Girl

    Lost Little Girl Senior Member

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    Hi Cosmic,

    I really loved reading your post. It was so sweet and geeky, I can absolutely identify with it. :)

    I have the same feelings about Kings of Leon who have become quite a big band in the UK over the years. I 'discovered' kings of leon when I was 15 (still at school!). I'd only ever liked older bands before so I was excited when I came across Youth and Young Manhood, it's still one of my favourite albums.

    I've seen Kings of Leon a number of times, the first being a very small venue where I actually got to speak to the band before the show. It was small, intimate and if I'm honest, one of the best gigs I've ever been to.

    I went to several other gigs and they were all great. A couple of years ago though, I saw them at a large arena and although I was really proud of them it just wasn't the same.

    I'm not sure if I even like their most recent album. I've gone to clubs and heard the DJ play 'Sex on Fire'. Everyone sings along and I just feel really awkward...I wish I could be happy for the band but I resent them in a way for becoming so 'mainstream'. I look around me and wonder if anyone else has even heard their first album, it's makes me angry (I hate this about myself).

    I love your comparison to the role of a parent, if you really love a band that is how you will feel.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, I really enjoyed reading your post xx
     
  3. AboutAGirl

    AboutAGirl oh, be nice

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    Interesting discussion. I actually can't speak from a place of knowing on this one. All the acts whom I've gotten into on the ground floor, have failed to hit the mainstream.

    I think a band has hardcore and casual fans at any stage of their career. And I'd say the ratio is probably pretty similar across the eras. I mean these megastar acts, they inspire an equally strong and proportionally huge number of insane diehard fans.

    I understand that when a band is small, you can have a special connection with the artist and the community is much more closely knit. But what doesn't change about a band when they get big is, it's still the same great people you knew before up on stage, and the music means as much to the new fans as it did to the old fans.

    If I were to see someone like say The Primatives or HotChaCha become megastars, I think my reaction wouldn't so much be resentment over losing them, but pride and wonder over the fact that I got to experience this phenomenon at its start -- that I have something special with this band that thousands of new fans will envy and dream of. Those early shows, those out of print selfmade EPs, if a band stays underground then these things never fade into the annals of legend. But after a band 'makes it,' they do. And when an act you're connecting with on a deep level becomes a megastar, that's a powerful validation of the fact that you were justified in your hardcore devotion, and it's now dawning on thousands of people just how powerful this music is, and just how right you were all along.

    I must admit, I tend to see the phenomenon you're describing as elitism. I don't think there's anything strange about not liking a band's new material -- just because you like their early work doesn't mean you'll like everything they ever put out. But backlashing against a band because they get popular, I don't know. How can a band stop being good because too many people like them? I just can't wrap my head around that bit. I often feel frustrated when there's an album that I consider to be truly, awe-inspiring brilliant and nobody else feels that way. I would be overjoyed to see these works get the recognition they deserve.

    But, again, it's not really something I've experienced. So perhaps I just can't understand it properly or intimately.
     
  4. Cosmic Harmony

    Cosmic Harmony Senior Member

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    Thanks for saying so, LLG. Articulating my thoughts on this subject was kind of tricky because there were so many angles of it but I'm glad you thought it turned out well. :)

    And Kings of Leon is a great example since they were pretty underground before "Sex On Fire" and "Use Somebody". Now they're this stadium sized rock band (or at least they were last I checked) that is almost sort of expected to recycled the format of the two previously mentioned tracks to keep all of those new fans they accumulated. In fact, I can remember at one point people were calling them the new Nickelback, which is a really sad stigma to carry considering how exciting and non-middle of the road their first few albums were and they'll likely never go back to that now.
     
  5. Cosmic Harmony

    Cosmic Harmony Senior Member

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    @AAG

    I think for some people it's that "hipster" mentality of "Oh you haven't heard it so I'm cooler for being in the loop." and once that allure is gone so is a lot of why they liked the band.

    Another part of it may be that gathering a large following for a band can largely affect the kind of output of said band. Take Mumford & Sons for example; their first album was an amazing, genuine, heartfelt piece of music that I still love. Their second album fell flat for me and at first I couldn't figure out why. Initially, I thought maybe the hipsters ruined them for me (silly, I know) but then I read an interview where Marcus Mumford said that the band tried to put out the most Mumford & Sons-y album they could.........but they're already Mumford & Sons...sooooo it would by nature sound like them. :bonk: So I think the fault of it was that they tried to give the fans what the band thought they wanted and it lost some of it's authenticity as a result. I wouldn't be surprised if this was the case for other bands either and supported the "I like their older stuff better" claims that some older fans have in general.
     
  6. AboutAGirl

    AboutAGirl oh, be nice

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    That's true, bands do often play mainstream music once they get the chance, or they become too self-conscious and lose the magic like you said.
     
  7. Lost Little Girl

    Lost Little Girl Senior Member

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    Hi AAG :) I don't think it's about disliking a band just because they have become popular, but more about disliking the music they have made since they've become popular. xx
     
  8. Jonny Come Lately

    Jonny Come Lately The New Kid In Town

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    Interesting thread, even though I can't relate particularly closely to being alienated by a band I discovered when they were unknown. I did like your solid/liquid/gas analogy though.

    Having said this, your Mumford & Sons example reminds me a bit of Coldplay, and in particular A Rush Of Blood To The Head and X&Y. I used to enjoy these albums about equally but over time I have found the former to be significantly better. Coldplay had established a warm, mellow sound on their debut album but on Rush... this sound was largely discarded, with most of the record having a colder, more urgent feel. While the album is probably best remembered for The Scientist and Clocks, songs like the intense Politik, stripped-down God Put A Smile Upon Your Face, the churning A Whisper and the dark title track don't sound like the average listener's perception of the band. It would have been easy for Coldplay to produce an album of reworked versions of Don't Panic and Yellow, but songs like these gave the record more variety and have kept me coming back to it.

    With X&Y by contrast, I found after a while that it sounded like the band was trying to make the most Coldplay-sounding album they could, consisting almost entirely of songs meant to be big anthems or emotional ballads, with the same tricks being used throughout the songs (the same synth sounds and big falsetto hooks being two of the most obvious) which ultimately only emphasises the difference in quality between the album's highlights like Square One and Fix You, and the less successful songs like Swallowed In The Sea. It leaves me with the sense that the band was too eager to please the public by giving the people what they thought they wanted from the band - much like Mumford & Sons - but ironically it is now widely considered a disappointment whereas its predecessor (which sounds much more like Coldplay making the music they want to make) is often cited as their best album.
     
  9. Cosmic Harmony

    Cosmic Harmony Senior Member

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    Yeah, Coldplay is definitely another band I could see that with. It's no secret that they have a lot of pretty consistent marks in their hits and since (if I'm not mistaken) they've been the most successful band of the last 15 years. So it'd make sense if Chris Martin is reluctant to deviate and risk losing that title. (If it ain't broke, don't fix it right?)

    Beyond just trying to give fans a very Colplay-y sounding album though I think some of it is that the songs are being written for this setting...


    [​IMG]


    ...second to the actual album that would call it home. I'm not saying that's a bad thing as numerous bands, including my favorite band Queen, wrote songs with the live performances in mind but when you willingly limit your sound then those big anthems and emotional ballads are all you're left with, right?
     
  10. Khor1255

    Khor1255 Senior Member

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    It's been kind of easy for me because the level of a band's popularity has always directly corresponded with their decline musically. It started when I was pretty young with Kiss first putting out a couple lack o luster albums then a disco album while Alice Cooper and Sabbath were floundering then exactly the moment Rush really started being played on prime time radio was their first decline album (Permanent Waves) followed by them believing they were the reincarnation of The Police, Maiden got a cheesy singer and forgot they were the rock and roll version of a Saturday nigh horror show, Priest started playing to the least common denominator, Ozzy lost the heart and soul of his band etc etc.
    I didn't have to try to distance myself from these bands, they produced music that was far removed from the sound I liked.
     

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