I've been going to shows for approximately five years now, and I've always been something of an objective observer. The forms of music that interest me the most are horribly under-represented where I come from, so I've never become very entrenched in the scene. By no means do I consider myself to be an expert on the history of different musical trends, and I acknowledge that my experience has been limited geographicly to Central Florida, but I have noticed a very distinct change. In 1997, edgier emo acts such as MindLikeWater and Sunny Day Real Estate were still playing an important role. The definition of the word Emo was so wide open that it included acts like Flu13 who, to me, sounded more like grunge rock than anything else. Punk was still bearable, and relevant to the political and social context of that time. The mindless bandying of the term "sell-out" that Aresds describes above had reached a fever pitch and was starting to become something of a cliche.
Most started to look on people who were concerned with whether or not a band had sold out as obnoxious scenesters. For the most part, they were right. It seemed that the entire local music culture gradually became more laid back toward the whole issue. It became acceptable for bands to write catchy, poppy punk songs. Even all-out Indy pop such as The Dismemberment Plan was deemed acceptable and even gained wide critical acclaim due to their refreshing sound.
Critics are sometimes more predictable than the masses. It is unfortunate that they have such an important role in dictating the course of musical evolution and development.
The entire culture of local music seemed to ask, "What's wrong with writing an upbeat song that could conceivably have some commercial success?". Almost five years later, the answer has become apparent. Shaggy haired hipsters flood MTV and thousands of local bands strive to emulate them. There were some major political issues surfacing in 1997. However, it is nothing compared to the crapflood of civil rights catastrophes and social problems that the year 2002 has seen. I've gone to some local shows, in fact a great deal of local shows, and for the past year the only bands that I have seen that were willing to bring up any truly important political issues were Bluebird, Josh Martinez, and Grand Buffet, three hip-hop acts that came through Orlando last night. Yes, hip-hop.
The last few punk shows I have seen have been a series of identical, pop-punk affairs with the exception of one. The one punk show I have seen that strayed from the pop-emulating sucrose orgy was an endless series of inside jokes about the local punk culture.
Like a cannibalistic twin that absorbs the other embryo in the womb, the poppier, sappier Emo bands seem to have won out over the edgier, more interesting Screamo bands. They have created an atmosphere in which the harder Emo bands have all but completely perished. Industrial has almost completely fallen by the wayside, with the exception of some EBM bands who have survived by catering to the amazingly pretentious goth dance crowd. ($90 for a shirt with locks instead of buttons? Fuck you, too.) Metal, of course, has been fused with rap due to corporate bands such as Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park gaining massive commercial success.
So now the pendulum is swinging back, and what will undoubtedly happen is a fierce rejection of corporate interests in the local music scene. It seems like we are headed straight back to 1997. My suggestion is, next time, both the scenesters and the counter-scenesters exercise a greater degree of rational thought.