This being my first contribution to the blog, I decided that I should write about something I feel very strongly about. Of course, I feel strongly about quite a few things, but one thing comes to mind on this particular day.
One of the biggest problems with music today, more specifically the type of music that I listen to, is what I like to call “Hipster Bandwagon” fans. If that isn’t self-explanatory, I’m referring to fans that support an up-and-coming band while they aren’t well-known and abandon them as soon as the band receives the support they deserve. I will admit that I’m not innocent of doing this myself with bands such as All Time Low, Four Year Strong, and A Day to Remember, but the fans I refer to abandon a band that makes no appreciable change to their “sound” when they gain popularity, and the previously mentioned bands certainly shifted to appease their newfound notoriety.
This type of behavior is most evident to me in fans of the band that happens to be my favorite by far. I refer, of course, to the pop-punk powerhouse known as The Wonder Years. In the weeks preceding the release of their latest album, Suburbia: I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing, I witnessed many fans saying things like, “These guys are going to be stars, and they deserve it,” and, “The Wonder Years are some of the hardest working guys in the business. They’re going to be huge,” but as soon as the album dropped and Lansdale’s golden boys started getting some real attention, the attitude changed. Now, a year after the release, people have been calling the band’s music “bitchy,” and, “whiny,” dismissing their previously highly praised lyrics and energy as commonplace and only connective to those living in America’s middle-class suburbs.
It pains me more than anything else to see this, as I have a personal connection to the band’s music, which will be addressed in a future post. The band changed nothing about their sound. They simply refined it to something that may sound different at first because the band matured and really came into their own. The advance in the talents of each individual member led to an advance as a band that translated to music that bolstered the band’s energy both in studio recordings and the live show.
Instead of supporting the band in their advancement, a good number of fans decided that they didn’t want to “share” the band with newfound fans that became interested through Suburbia. This is particularly unbecoming in a genre known for fans that are tolerant, sympathetic, and generally accepting. I will admit to being adverse to the new Wonder Years fans at first, but upon thinking for just a moment of reasons not to accept new fans, I couldn’t come up with a decent answer. These new fans were attracted to the music for the same reasons I was when I first heard “You’re Not Salinger, Get Over It,” so I had no reason to reject them. Instead, being a legitimate fan of The Wonder Years and their message, I accepted the bands’ newfound popularity with open arms, proud of them for finally getting the attention they deserve.
These observations drive me to the conclusion that the “Hipster Bandwagon” supports bands only to boost their own popularity, boasting to their friends that they knew of a band before they hit it big. Lead vocalist Dan “Soupy” Campbell has referred to these fans as “Seven-Inch Kids”, who are mentioned in the fifth song on Suburbia, “My Life As A Pigeon”. These “fans” are an unfortunate reality in the industry, but they aren’t a necessary part of it. Those who actually invest themselves as fans of a band tend to follow the band until, heaven forbid, the band breaks up or retires. People seem to forget that the members of bands are just as human as the fans and as a result do not remain exactly the same throughout life. In closing, if you’re a fan of an up-and-coming band like With the Punches, State Champs, or even a local band like Worcester’s Set the Season, remember to invest yourself in the band as much as you see fit, and don’t try to appear a huge fan unless you’re prepared to keep supporting the band through rough times, for better or for worse.