Indie Rock Is Worth Hating
"Don't rock the boat, sink it!" commands the anonymous scribe behind I Hate Indie Rock, a fiery Twitter account that has been launching crust-punk-tinged salvos at publicists, nostalgia and vapidity in the indie rock realm. The account has been around only since October, and at this point, the feed has devolved into a rather entertaining broad-stroke fuck-all fest. It has still managed to draw the intrigue, both serious and not, of a number of music critics and sites.
See also: Why You Shouldn't Hate Indie Rock
In fact, our partners at L.A. Weekly wrote a post last week asking Paul Tao, co-chief of Iamsound Records, to address the feed's more hardline arguments about corporate influence in music, from billion-dollar investment firms to the alcohol industry. Tao accurately argued the account is shooting at a few straw men, but also shrugs off bigger questions the account poses about licensing songs to ads and end-of-the-night band payouts determined by bar sales.
I might have also paid little mind to the ranting had so many of I Hate Indie Rock's stances not rung so true for me. Indie rock as a catch-all is removed from its original meaning. The sparkly wonder of Kickstarter is actually problematic. And yes, nearly everyone uses the 'p' word incorrectly. I do respectfully disagree about the account's dismissal of Grimes and Hipster Runoff, but I Hate Indie Rock's tone of interrogation isn't the only thing that has me thinking hard about the state of the industry.
Former Pitchfork contributor Chris Ott started an addictive video series called Shallow Rewards, and in its inaugural video argued the music press has not come anywhere close to harnessing the potential of the Internet. "What we're doing is what we're being allowed to do by the people who will pay for us to contribute content to the Internet, which is advertisers," Ott says. "And they don't give a shit about music." I Hate Indie Rock is virulently anti-capitalist, going so far as to direct smart phone owners to ditch their Droids, but it's not alone in encouraging the examination of corporate influence in a supposedly counter-cultural medium.
I would not write off all of I Hate Indie Rock's screeds about the industry as straight-edge idealism. A band's ability to secure a publicist has become more crucial to its financial success than the ability to provide a decent live performance. Booking agents themselves have said bands that get hyped-up before ever playing a show are essentially trusted to somehow pull it together, even if it risks a public crumbling (Salem, Wavves).
The account basically bemoans a lack of true iconoclasts in the independent music realm and the mistaken equivalence of the meaningless lifestyle branding of Urban Oufitted sounds with the meaningful lifestyle choices that ran parallel with past movements like punk and psychedelia. Yeah, it's sloppy, but it demands conversations about money, media and artistic integrity that too often have been eye-rolled out of the room through anxiety or disinterest.
I'll go ahead and adopt I Hate Indie Rock's penchant for platitudes: 99.9 percent of Internet comments are not worth reading, let alone merit a response. Yet I excitedly, perversely look forward to the night my band gets heckled by a belligerent drunk for the first time. My preconceived notions and unarticulated assumptions about music and youth culture, two things I love and also love to hate, are challenged less every day. This feisty little Twitter account thinks the stakes should be raised. I'd be into that too.