Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Hipsters, Surrounded by Them

I was very much looking forward to seeing Dengue Fever on Saturday night at the Empty Bottle. I got everything together, made a decision about dinner, and got on a train, which lead me to a bus heading for the show. Along the way my ride was interrupted by a festival in Wicker Park on Division. It was busy and bustling, and the bus went around to get out of the way. Interestingly enough, the side route for the bus put me closer to my desired location. The sign at the Bottle said the show would start at 8:30, but the website said that the show would not start until 10:00; being confused I rushed through dinner so I would be at the Bottle no later than 9:00.

The sign was a lie. I pulled up a chair in the back of the bar, got a glass of wine, and settled in for the hour-long wait to enjoy the show. As I waited I watched the crowd. While watching the crowd I was forced to come to the startling realization that most of the people flooding slowly but surely into the bar, were hipsters.

Hipsters are apparently a current subclass of pop culture. I have to admit that before the summer of 2009 I did not know what a hipster was. I was not aware of the term hipster. I could not actually identify a hipster. Then, in the summer of 2009 one of my trainees lead a mini-teaching session on identifying a hipster, complete with handout. During the class I learned the identifying features of a hipster (scruffy beard, tight V-neck T-shirt, skinny jeans, smartphone) and how to identify a hipster if I ran into one on the street.

So now, as I sat in the bar waiting for the Dengue Fever, I realized that I was surrounded by hipsters. Apparently the hipsters are very into Dengue Fever. I figured that would be fine. I don’t mind different kinds of people. I know that I hang out a lot of people, and my friends run from A to Z, so I figured I might have a chance to add a few hipsters to the list.

However, hipsters don’t seem to really mingle well with people they have never met before, so I didn’t really get much of a chance to meet new people.

And then the first band was up.

The first band was very much a hipster band. At this point I learned something very important that I had not known before.

I didn't like hipster music.

In fact, I loathed it. I loathed it a lot. It was auto-tuned, boring tripe with painful drum machines and poorly executed musical riffs. In a word, hipster music was awful. Truly awful. I don’t like to speak ill of new music; I like to give it the benefit of the doubt.

But there was no need for benefit here. The band sucked.

The next band to go on was worse. With more auto-tuning, the same movie sample played over and over again, and the same rhythm for all the songs. It was spectacularly bad. Hideous. I wanted out, I want to climb the walls to get away.

It was during this general wall climbing that I saw signs for a festival. This was the festival that had interrupted my bus ride. The festival had bands. A lot of bands. One band in particular had played at 7:00 that very evening at the festival. Dengue Fever, the band I had come to see. They had played less than five hours ago and this was their second act of the evening.

That sucked. It meant the band I was looking forward to seeing had played less than four hours ago on a hot stage in the middle of a street in Chicago. As they climbed up on to the stage for their set, it was obvious that they were a bit worn out. It was visible, and even though they worked very hard to keep their energy up, they were off just enough that it was not a great show.

Good, but not great.

Ah well. The hipsters seemed to enjoy it, but it was hard to trust the judgment of the same people who had enjoyed the previous two bands. I realized that hipsters weren't all bad, in that apparently they did have somewhat good taste in music; however, I would have to reserve judgment. I couldn't completely fault the hipsters this time. Not…this time.

1 comment:

linda said...

Wow...so awesome. I kind of like the idea of life in Daegu and specifically the commune remaining hipster-free. When I moved to New York, we rented a place in half-Polish half-hipster Brooklyn, the neighborhood of Greenpoint. I was face to face with the hipsterest of the hipsters from 2007-2009. Brian mocked them ruthlessly. I enjoyed their coffee shops. And, yes, some of the music IS good.