Indie rock, class, race, and culture in America

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19 Responses to “Indie rock, class, race, and culture in America”

  1. rikomatic says:

    Very interesting.

    Some Caribbean-American teens that I’ve worked with differentiate themselves from African-Americans by purposely not listening to hip-hop and favoring rock or other music.  

  2. aperturehead says:

    The FISHBONE documentary “EVERYDAY SUNSHINE” that came out a couple of years ago addresses all of these questions in a less sentimental and confused fashion than Douglas does in this article. FISHBONE had (and still have) 25+ years in the mostly White music business and had to face every form of peculiar racism known, including racism directed at them from other Black people in the business (“we can’t sell you to a Rock audience…”) besides drink and drugs, it was one of the leading factors in the initial dissolution of the group. They still tour.

    • Navin_Johnson says:

       including racism directed at them from other Black people in the business (“we can’t sell you to a Rock audience…”)

      From blacks in the music industry? I’m trying to imagine how this played out. They tried to market them as “soul” music?

      • oneswellfoop says:

        I imagine they tried to pressure them to conform to a type of music that more closely aligns with the mainstream/popular music produced by black musicians at that particular time.

        • Navin_Johnson says:

           Given the nature of their music I find that kind of bizarre. Might as well market Bad Brains as disco….well they did do some reggae…

        • aperturehead says:

          Fishbone were/are multi-genre and also non-genre simultaneously. Every music influence that came within their sphere was absorbed and spit out as something else. It helped that everybody in the band was out of their mind

      • aperturehead says:

        I guess you could say no one in the music business knew what to do with Fishbone (Black or White or Polka Dot) – here was a band who was popular mostly with a young, White punk crowd – I guess Fishbone caught a lot of serious poo-poo from their astute Black colleagues in and out the business. See the movie. Netflix has it. Aside from the overall gist of the film, it has a fairly wild sub-story involving, uh…kidnapping. 

        • Navin_Johnson says:

           Cool, dropping in the queue after work. I can’t say they held up for me, but I liked them as a teen, and am interested in the story.

  3. Daneel says:

    there’s a not-so-fine line between craft beer and malt liquor?

  4. oneswellfoop says:

    That race and culture are so difficult to divorce pisses me off, and I find it absurd.  Then again, I don’t care about race, but will absolutely discriminate based on culture determined by how acceptable (read: progressive) I find the pillars by which it defines itself.  Perhaps that viewpoint is a luxury of growing up in America, a cultural hodgepodge where it is easy to pick pick and choose aspects of various cultures and create your own.  That some parents, and people in general, would try to enforce a cultural norm tied to race make me want to throttle someone.

  5. RadioSilence says:

    Anyone else having trouble getting to the article?
    I’m just getting this (even when I try to go to mtvhive.com)
    —–
    Access DeniedYou don’t have permission to access “http://www.mtvhive.com/2013/01/16/the-only-black-guy-at-the-indie-rock-show/” on this server.Reference #18.37a8fc3e.1360617988.6fddbe1

  6. bwohlgemuth says:

    Actually, he nailed it with the “White Person Bingo”.  Go into any alt-? show without at least checking off at least five boxes on the White Person Bingo will get a strange look.  Moshing-While-Fat will do the same as well.

  7. Navin_Johnson says:

    I’d also add that this was something that was addressed (but on a punk rock level) in the movie Afropunk.

    http://www.afropunk.com/page/afropunk-the-movie

  8. dpamac says:

    Wish I could find a good interview with Stew of The Negro Problem (his band) and Passing Strange (musical for which he won a Tony that was filmed by Spike Lee and shown on PBS). He’s been talking about this very topic for years. Also buy all of Stew and TNP’s albums because they are great.

  9. bcsizemo says:

    I realize I’m white so this doesn’t apply the same way, but in terms of musical taste I pretty much get it.  I grew up in NC as well, probably around the same time he did.  I was into EDM, and my first exposure just like him was through MTV.  Yeah I liked some rock, alternative, and the occasional rap song, but “techno” as it was called back then, was an awakening for me.  Obviously I didn’t have much access to it, but as the 90′s rolled on it became more popular, or at least big beat did, which might be my favorite genre anyway.

    But I can relate to that odd stare/expression when someone asked you what kind of music you listen to, who your favorite band was, ect..  It really was like you were from a different continent, like how dare you not listen to alt rock.  Obviously as time has moved on EDM has become somewhat more mainstream, but I still get the occasional odd expression when asked what I listen to.
    I usually just lie unless I plan on really befriending that person…

    I have a friend I met through work who is also into EDM, he’s black and grew up a county over from me.  He also knows these feels.

  10. OC says:

    Yeah, as a black person who loves a lot of different kinds of music, I appreciated this essay a lot. Also recommend this response: http://thoughtcatalog.com/2013/the-only-black-guy-in-the-matchbox-20-fan-club/

  11. nvlady says:

    I can totally relate to this guy, especially back when there genuinely were not a lot of black people outside the expected music genres black people were supposed to be in. I’d go to a concert and you would be the only black person there, then I’d see another black person and two things go on in my head:
    1) I want to go up to them and introduce myself and in my mind say, “Hi OMG I’m black too lets be friends!! Yay!!” 
    2) They look at you as a threat to their novelty of them being the ‘black person’ and ignore you.

    So yeah, we have that going on, too. You don’t want to seem too eager, but you are interested, and you know they are too. Kinda dammed if you do, damned if you don’t.

  12. The song this essay was titled after is by a dude named Sean Padilla, and his band is The Cocker Spaniels. Let me tell you something: he goes OFF (live, and on record). Get his music, and see him wherever he plays. Your entire world will be crushed by his mighty, mighty skills at Rock Music. The album that song is from has the best title in the history of album titles. That, and the fact that he is one of the kindest, most standupinnest weirdos i have ever had to pleasure to meet. Just do yourself a favor.

    Seriously, some of the best, weirdest, catchiest music of all time. If you like GBV, the Pixies, Zappa, Prince, AND Pavement, you need to hear him.

    http://cspaniels.com/

    But i digress. Yes: Black folk are quite possibly much better at all the awesome shit they invented. Isn’t that interesting? Now let’s dance.

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