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This is a reply TO both
the diatribes of John Tab (The Mail, 4/12) and James Stephens (The Mail, 4/19). Each was overblown in its own way. First, Tab’s criticism of the indie-rock scene was ham-fisted, but he does have a point. As someone who has been following independent rock (or whatever one calls it this week) for 20 years, I’ve noticed how much less excited I am about bands such as Dishwalla, the latest faux-cocktail monstrosity, or the icky-gooey-cutesy quintet. Most of this stuff used to sound either sonically or lyrically dangerous. Remember Black Flag and early Elvis Costello? Yet the landscape is not totally drab. Fugazi still makes my toes shiver, I’m sure Uz Jsme Doma is boss, and Boys Against Girls take off on a few Fall tangents. Tab was incorrect in completely writing off indie rock.
Stephens was even more stupid in totally writing off the rave scene. Yes, much of the material, like that of the indie scene, contains sameness. But I’m excited by a lot of this music. With the best techno, ambient, trance and jungle, every influence, Eastern and Western, is permitted. I doubt that Stephens, as an admitted outsider, has listened to very much of it, but because the stuff is so varied, there must be something he’d like. Also, there is a lot of English product that Stephens probably likes—Space Hog, Sundial, etc.—that is fueled by similarly psychedelic influences. Attitudinizing of the DJ? As much as I love the music, I’ve never experienced as much attitude as I have with the indie scene. Whether it was an art-rocker who couldn’t accept me as a history-major geek or the hawdcawrs who couldn’t stand me because I was too artsy, I’ve experienced gallons of attitude. Ravers tend to be more accepting, although I hear that’s changing as the music becomes more popular.
Speaking of, Stephens criticized techno as being too popular. C’mon! “Indie” rockers are so mainstream as to be on Grandma’s lips. Eddie Vedder salutes Fugazi. Boys Against Girls are named-dropped in the Washington Post. Jawbox hosts MTV’s 120 Minutes. I dare Stephens to name any techno act with that kind of notoriety!
With regard to raver drug use, let me remind you that the punk indie scene isn’t immune to these things. I can’t go to the Cat as much as I’d like because of the excessive secondhand tobacco smoke. Straight edge notwithstanding, there have been more than a few drug fatalities in the punk scene. And alcohol? The Cat shows were mostly underattended until that establishment obtained its liquor license. These well-attended raves are alcohol-free.
Finally, both guys are immature in totally invalidating any kind of music. Washington City Paper covers plenty of things I don’t care for. If you don’t like it, don’t read about it!
via the Internet