My friends and I like to play this guessing game which I like to call, “what kind of people do you think would go to a so-and-so show?” I think it’s fun and my friends do, too, and I feel like it’s one of the biggest curiosities going to a show, aside from how the actual band you’re going to see is going to sound. Who would be at a My Bloody Valentine show? A Jessie Ware show? A Deafheaven show? A Vampire Weekend show? A Kanye West show? A Godspeed You! Black Emperor show? A Chvrches show? A Julianna Barwick show? You get my point.
Every show has a stereotypical demographic, I think, and through this unofficial game, we create a rough sketch of that stereotypical being at a show. I apologize for the crude depictions of people that will follow, but… I’d assume I wouldn’t have to say what kind of a person people think would go to a Vampire Weekend show, or a She & Him show for that matter (Parenthesis/Scare quotes time: well-dressed hipsters). And how about a Kanye West show? Maybe stylish hypebeast-y looking people? My knowledge of the metal scene is so surface so I got intimidated going to a Deafheaven show, thinking I’d see straight-up scary people. I didn’t even buy a Taylor Swift ticket because the people I thought I’d be surrounded by was not worth my fun, which I quickly realized to be a stupid reason not to go and regretted it shortly after passing up for a ticket.
But you know what? Every show I’ve been to have been exactly the same kind of person — in the 18-24 range with varying amounts of hip, cozy clothes. Save for Kanye West, because I think you should’ve seen that coming, and if it makes you laugh, I sat next to a dude who literally dressed head to toe with ASAP Rocky’s typical gear (Thanks, Nik, for the clarification). People who I saw and when I went to see Jessie Ware at the Amoeba in-store could’ve pretty much be seen at that Godspeed You! Black Emperor show over at Pomona. This is strictly going by their way of dress, but I don’t know, I think of a completely different person when I think of a “Deafheaven fan” and a “Chvrches fan.” So it’s exciting (and maybe boring at the same time) to see that actual normal people go to these shows and appreciate all different kinds of music.
We’re not all that different, guys, as obvious as that ever seemed. There’s that other obvious thing about how all of these bands were covered in indie/alternative music publication such as Pitchfork and SPIN, so the consistency in demographic I’m seeing might not be so much because oh man, these people actually love every genre of music, but more so that I’m interacting with my fellow Pitchfork readers. So maybe it has to do with more how people find music than consuming it.
Then again, I have a friend who I was supposed to go to both the Deafheaven show and the Chvrches show (and FYF but let’s not remember the tough trials of retail life and the struggle to get a weekend requested off). So yeah, maybe we are not that different! I don’t feel so weird going to all these different shows. And the struggle to get people to go these different shows feels a little lighter, considering people are willing to expand and go to different stuff once in a while.
This also means I actually might belong in a demographic, the 18-24 cozily dressed demographic. Not a bad thing, but I don’t think my clothes are hip enough to fit in any of these crowds. I guess it’s better than the 16-21 hyper-stylish hip hop crowd. I really don’t feel like I belong in any demographic, though. I mean that in a depressing way, like, I feel like I’m a tourist and not so dedicated into a certain group over another. I don’t completely identify with those people and my heart seems to lie elsewhere. But again, that’s what the real test of being a hipster is right? When you say you’re not a hipster, you are a hipster.
Truthfully, I don’t think anyone out there strongly feels a belonging or identifying with a certain demographic or type of music fan. It’s just statistics professionals trying to group us into groupthink. But it’s interesting to find similar people in all of these seemingly disparate shows this year. It’s a little disappointing in terms of the hype of seeing that one dude confirming a ridiculous stereotype (but again, ASAP Rocky dude!) but it’s more so positive thinking that there is no music fan stereotype to a degree. We’re all just normal people enjoying the music we like: certainly a demographic I identify with.