Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Terrible emo boys

I had a fun moment of synergy recently.

I saw a birthday wish to Geoff Rickly, and I thought the name sounded familiar. A quick search revealed he is the lead singer of No Devotion, whom I reviewed in January, but that was not all.

He was also in Thursday - a band featured in Nothing Feels Good - and I had taken down a quote from him because it seemed significant:

"...all the kids who were totally into Marxism and pushing communism were also emotionally abusive to their girlfriends."

That was in chapter 10. There was some exploration of emo misogyny in Chapter 9, but there are some good examples of it in Chapter 11, which is where I wrote "TOOL!" (Okay, I didn't really capitalize it like that, but the exclamation point was there.)

In 11 Greenwald hangs out with a bunch of kids in Long Island as they talk about what the band means to them. There are three specific things that bug me.

p. 180 "Girls don't listen to Dashboard like we do. They like it because it's catchy. I mean, I can sing along to it, bop my head and whatever, but we get the inner meaning, we get how it really relates to us. Like, I don't listen to any female bands-- I turn away from them sometimes because I can't relate to it."

p. 184 "I want him to stay ours. I know it's selfish."

I have seen that possessiveness before. One common manifestation is when fans will hate the significant others of the band members. It happens with actors too.

I also find it ironic that while Greenwald details how passionate they are about music, he mentions that they time their arrival at the concert to be able to miss the opening bands but still be able to move to the front.

But the thing that bothered me the most - and I noticed it the first time but after going through again and getting soured on Greenwald it was even more obvious - is that when the kids tell him they wish they had started a band, he wants to tell them that they did.

No, no, a thousand times no! Sitting around together bummed because no one gets you but the one musician (that other one did before, but he's too big now), and other people don't really get that musician, but you do because you are special - that is not remotely similar to starting a band!

Even the most self-absorbed musicians have to go through getting instruments, learning to play them, learning to play at the same tempo as each other so it is not total dischord (unless you choose that you want it that way), learning how to play enough songs to get gigs, learning how to turn what is in their heads into their own songs, and finding ways to get heard. That is work.

And maybe as that effort gets you out of your own head, you discover that girls also have the intellectual and emotional capacity to appreciate music, and make music that is worth listening to! Maybe you find it in you to give opening bands a chance, like the band you are going to see has.

I can tell you, one of the worst concerts I have ever been to was Dashboard Confessional, and it was because of all the girls singing along. It wasn't because of the beat, because they slowed everything down and killed the beat." (Also on p. 184 "It will be people reciting words that they know as opposed to belting out the words that you feel." I don't think so.)

Here was the other fun coincidence that came out searching on Geoff Rickley. Pharmabro Martin Shkreli was a silent investor in Rickly's label Collect Records, a connection that was later severed when Shkreli became known for gouging sick people and other horrible things.

I'm sure it was disappointing, but it shouldn't really be surprising. Liking music doesn't automatically make you a good person, and there are aspects of emo that can be very self-indulgent.

I've told you about my worst concert, but one of my best was a show with The Hotelier (considered part of a new emo revival), Josh Berwanger (formerly of The Anniversary), and The Get Up Kids. Those are some pretty strong emo roots, but that show was alive with positive energy.

What makes it different? I have some thoughts, but I'm afraid it requires one more post.

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