I work at a church. This puts me in contact with a number of people who might be a little…outside of the underground music music scene.
One of these non-punks is a sweet lady named Connie. Connie is in her sixties, and always greets me with a smile and asks me about what I’ve been up to. One morning, I told her that SPACESHIPS had played a show the night before.
Her jaw dropped. “You’re in a band? What’s it like?”
“Oh Connie, I’m not sure you’d be into it.”
“Is it like…a rock band?” She rigidly mimed playing a heavy electric guitar.
“I suppose you could call it that.”
She asked where she could hear it and demanded that I write down our website. The next week, she excitedly walked up to me to tell me that she listened, and enjoyed it enough to pass it along to her sons.
I was a little surprised. But I have to admit, it’s not the first surprise like that I’ve had. Over the years, I’ve carefully combed my friends list while inviting people to a show. I’d scroll right past someone thinking, “oh, they probably wouldn’t enjoy this at all.” My neighbor Bryan is one of those—and yet when we released our album, I walked into my backyard to hear our album playing from his garage.
I’ve tried to remember not to say no to people, but sometimes I still make a judgment call on what they’d be into.
This past week at Flood City Fest, I met a Black young woman named Charity. When I first saw her walking into the church, I thought she was just a curious neighbor—until I learned that she drove from New Jersey.
At one point (after an impromptu jam on “Stand By Me” while Dad Jokes was waiting for our set), she remarked to me, “I love soul music. I’m not sure I get rock music. That’s not my deal at all.”
Yet during almost every set, she was right there, having the time of her life. Even during Irae’s set, she was right up front, headbanging along with a giant smile on her face.
She might not have understood it, but she enjoyed it.
And is there a purer reaction to art than that?
People don’t need to have a working knowledge of a genre’s history, or be able to dissect the taxonomy of genre cross pollination at work in a song in order to enjoy it. They don’t need to have an accurate point of reference to know that they dig something. They just need to hear it and be moved by it.
That might mean taking more Kings of Leon comparisons with a smile, but so be it. As long as they enjoy it, I don’t need to play the music snob card and explain why they’re wrong. I just need to take their enthusiasm in kind and invite them to another show.
But seriously, we don’t sound like Kings of Leon at all. Why do people keep saying that?