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Overheard at a venue in Exeter, England:
Me: Thanks for the show tonight.
Exeter Promoter (EP): Thank you. It was a pleasure.
Me: No, it was our pleasure.
EP: No, it was our pleasure.
Me: No, really, it was our pleasure.
EP: Okay, then. (A moment passes.)
Me: Well. How’s Exeter?
EP: Well. (A moment passes.) Exeter is strange. There was a university here. It was here for 150 years. It was an art school. It was the art school I went to, actually. I came to Exeter to study art.
Me: And you stayed!
EP: And I stayed! I stayed and I opened this venue.
Me: It’s quite a wonderful venue. You rank among the most hospitable English promoters I have ever dealt with.
Me: Yes! I mean it!
EP: You’re being sarcastic.
Me: No! I mean it! You think I’m being sarcastic because of my accent. All Americans sound sarcastic to all Englishpersons, just as all Englishpersons sound sarcastic to all Americans. If I was being sarcastic, you wouldn’t know it.
EP: So how am I to really know that you’re really not being sarcastic?
Me: Because I’m telling you. If I was really being sarcastic, I wouldn’t bring up the issue of sarcasm.
EP: But, fundamentally, it’s a matter of trust.
Me: Isn’t everything? (A moment passes.)
EP: I’ve been running this venue for 17 years. But this year has been an odd one. The university moved away.
Me: The university closed?
EP: It’s gone. It took a lot of the kids that used to come here with it.
Me: Like a factory? Like a factory closing and moving away, the university moved?
EP: Yes. And it took all the kids.
Me: Like all the factories that closed in that Billy Joel song “Allentown?”
Me: I never heard of a university moving. Where did it move?
EP: To Plymouth.
Me: Where’s that?
EP: Not here. (A moment passes.)
Me: Well. What do the kids that remain in Exeter want to hear?
EP: New rave.
Me: New wave?
EP: No, new rave.
Me: What’s new rave?
EP: Well, it’s sort of like rave music, but put on [Ed. Note: “put on” is British slang for “played”] by indie kids.
Me: You mean electroclash?
EP: No, new rave.
Me: You mean dance-punk?
EP: No, new rave. It’s what all these kids are listening to now. You put on [Ed. Note: “put on” is also British slang for “book”] anything new rave and all the kids come.
Me: So, new rave is like rave music, meaning electronic and dancey, but it’s new, so, instead of being played by techno dudes with baggy pants, samplers, sequencers, and turntables, it’s played by rock dudes with tight pants and guitars and keyboards and such.
Me: Is it any good? (Promoter begins to answer.) No…wait. Don’t say. Don’t tell me. Don’t tell me if new rave is quote-unquote “good.” What is good, and what is bad, and who is to say what is good, and what is bad, and what people should be listening to, and what people shouldn’t be listening to? That’s not relevant. The question is, are the kids quote-unquote “all right?” The Who once famously said that the kids are all right. That’s what I want to know. As long as the kids are all right, all is well. So that’s what I want to know. Are these new rave kids all right, in a Who sense?