"Individuality, expression, and not giving a fuck what anyone else thinks about you!"
From Laylaleigh's The Punk Meets the Godfather, Part One: Do My Converse look okay? And other preconceptions by a hippie kid
Take a walk through any large town centre or suburb and sooner or later you'll come across a group of (typically) adolescent people, all dressed alike, all trying their hardest with a strange dichotomy: to be different from the crowd, but, equally importantly, to fit in with their own scene; the so-called alternative movement. Thanks largely to recent increased commercial interest in the 'alternative' music scene, and the now global appeal of bands such as The Offspring and Limp Bizkit et al, the underground has become mainstream.
This was my scene, these were my people. We would hang around in oversized jeans, in baggy hoodies and baseball caps, with dangling chains and unfortunate piercings. The skateboard was our public transport, Red Stripe our drink of choice, Kerrang! was our bible. We had - and there still is - unity, friendship, and good times. It's people with shared interests that hold a scene together, and people were in abundance; we had our own internal rules and ethics, our own dress code, pubs nightclubs and shops. For a group of people against labeling people and conformity, there is a whole image and ethos to stick to, or be ostracized.
He should've known
Looking lost then he wanders off
And tries to sing along to some song he's never heard
But just keeps mouthing all the words
Last Saint Patrick's Day I went to a basement show in a local pub for a few pints of Guinness with a couple of close friends. We hadn't intended to show up at this particular show, in that particular pub, but it was cheap to get in, and the amateur pounding of drums and squawking of electric guitars seemed to draw us. We purchased a round of drinks, took seats at a table near the back, and watched the bands sweat out their music. Perhaps it was the alcohol, or the company, or even the crowd that triggered it, but it set a thought process going. Nothing, I'm sure, that haven't occurred to hundreds before me; but thoughts and feelings that had been swimming around in my mind started to come together.
E2's own Laylaleigh wrote The Punk Meets the Godfather, Part One: Do My Converse look okay? And other preconceptions by a hippie kid. I read it, and it struck a not unrelated chord. Over the last four years, my own adopted scene had remained the same, and I had moved away from it, without even knowing it.
Well the scene here he's still alone
Another band goes on in this crowded basement
With too much small talk and lame inside jokes
Feeling useless out of excuses
He should've known to let it go
As I sat with my friends, listening to some godawful teenage band thrashing away, it slowly dawned on me that I was surrounded by people my age, all of them looking the same - baggy jeans, coloured hair, skate chains and Converse trainers. These were the people that only a few years ago would have been my social circle, and yet I felt utterly different; these people, this lifestyle was no longer mine. The hard held beliefs of only a few years previous had been eroded by time and change of circumstance. I like to think that I had grown and moved on, whilst the scene remained the same, unchanged. Perhaps it was the other way around; an influx of new people to the alternative scene had alienated me, perhaps it doesn't matter either way.
After all the bad endings and misunderstandings
And all of the late night last hopes and lost time
And all that she left for me was only a memory
All I can say is she don't understand me
And yet despite this split from the scene, I still frequent the same bars, pubs and clubs, to a certain extent I still dress in the same way, and my musical taste has only mellowed slightly recently. I seem to have come full circle; from hovering outside the alternative community, to being surrounded by it, and now I find myself back on it's outskirts, an older, half-familiar face. Thinking back to the time spent within the circle, it's obvious what drove me there; all the time spent within the scene was spent by the side of my now ex-girlfriend, someone you could have described as a hardcore 'scene kid', as the punk quoted in Laylaleigh's article says. Now, without her, the scene and it's people are less important.
People in groups provide strength and support for each other, and groups of people, their habits and idiosyncrasies provide comfort and a set of guideline by which to live life. But people change and personalities mutate over time. Some bonds are broken, some are strengthened, and the social network gives and strains as lives take new directions. The basement show, the rock club and Sunday afternoons with skateboards and singing along to punk rock used to be my scene, but life changed, evolved, and now that's who I used to be. These days, I'm just me.
With thanks to Mitzi for feedback and Laylaleigh for making me think.