As I rode my bike home from the BOMB THE MUSIC INDUSTRY show last Tuesday at the Middle East, I reflected upon my first month of living, eating, breathing, and going to shows in Boston. I thought about how it feels like every show I’ve been to this summer has included one of the following:
- The show was a sellout
- It was the birthday of someone in the band
- Someone was getting married
Which has led me to a few stipulations just short of solid conclusions:
- The underground music scene is getting too big
- …people in bands have summer birthdays?
- All the bands I love are getting old
The first stipulation could have correlations to the recent feuds between the cops and the Allston house shows, but I think it’s more of a case of folks that don’t know how to keep a secret. The birthdays thing doesn’t make much sense but it was someone in BTMI’s birthday, so he chose the setlist that night, which included mostly old hits and superfan favorites. And I think I’m right about my favorite bands getting old. It’s depressing. Come on, younger generation! The world is going to shit! Do something!!
I also thought about how BTMI makes me feel like an implosion. Everything I’ve been feeling for the past few years comes out when I see these guys play. All the anger, hatred, passion, drunkenness, depression, sadness and joy I’ve felt bursts out, leaving me squeezed dry and emotionally absent, sparing a mile-wide grin. And yet at the same time, they still manage to make you feel like shit for going to their show. Frontman Jeff Rosenstock remained relatively subdued on stage last Tuesday, but bassist John DeDomenici took the reins and ranted angrily in between every song, mostly about how much it sucks to have to play in a band in front of a bunch of unappreciative consumerist fans that want nothing more than to buy all of their stuff and drive really far and pay money to see them play.
Rosenstock has made very public his disdain towards selling physical copies of his records. He sells t-shirts that don’t mention the band, but in big block letters spell “MER-CHAN-DIS-ING.” I love this band, but sometimes I wonder if they love me back. Do they know that I haven’t bought clothes from a retail store in years so I can have more money to go to shows and buy records? Is it okay for me to enjoy buying anything, like a record from a band I like? If I give you money because I like your band, will you appreciate it?
The aggressively pessimistic on-stage banter makes you ask yourself: “If these guys hate how popular they are, why don’t they just quit?”
The truth is, they don’t hate how popular they are, they just hate the fact that any other job you could possibly have will suck infinitely worse than being in a band. The raw honesty on stage, to the untrained ear, makes BTMI seem like a bunch of jaded assholes that hate you, but it’s really a mutual feeling of disgust towards the world. They break the barrier between the stage and the audience because you can relate to them, and you can laugh and jeer and cry together as one -- and that’s something that every angsty pseudo-adult can get behind.
Sam Ueda is the Boston Phoenix's summer music intern. See him at shows and reassure him that everything is going to be OK. Maybe.