Allow me, if you will, to make a few generalizations and leaps of logic in laying out the following scenario: You meet someone and for whatever reason want to get to know them better. In an effort to start a conversation with this person you ask them what kind of music they listen to. There is a very good chance that the response you are about to be given contains something along the lines of “oh, I listen to everything.” They may add something to the end of that statement such as “except country/rap/metal/3-piece-prog-bluegrass-core,” and there may be some truth to either or both parts of their statement, but the construct of the conversation has already been accepted by both parties and then destroyed by their awareness of the construct. You asked a question to learn something about the other person, and in answering the question in this way, this hypothetical person is choosing to try tell you about themselves in their answer without actually answering the question, which tells you nothing about them.
People love to talk without saying anything.
Now, this is not how this situation will unfold one hundred percent of the time, and when it does, there is no guarantee that the person you are talking to isn’t being completely honest, but don’t we all kind of like everything anyway? I would wager that most people can find at least a handful of songs across the full scope off musical styles out there that they can enjoy. And for the handful of people who can’t do this, I would double down that they aren’t actually excluding one particular genre as our hypothetical friend from earlier likes to claim, but rather locked in to only liking one particular type of music, while disregarding everything else as “not that thing that I like.”
I guess it’s all a roundabout way of saying that we should all try to be open minded about the music we listen to (and everything else, for that matter), and that people (I) shouldn’t try to judge a person based on what they listen to, even though we all know that they are (I am) going to keep doing it.
So, how do we go about finding and liking music that we probably wouldn’t find or like on our own? This is where it helps to have friends.
I play in a cover band with a guitarist who is a better musician than I will ever be. There are reasons on top of reasons why playing music is fun, and getting paid to do so is the creamiest of cake icings, but playing with someone who consistently impresses and annoys me with his talent is a blast. (When I say annoy, I mean that in the most complimentary of ways, which should be obvious to anyone who has ever seen me flip him off during a show shortly after he plays something that cramps my fingers to watch.) I make no secret of my admiration for his talent, he’s an incredibly nice guy, and I consider him a friend. He has also toured with Daughters.
He and I have talked about the music of Daughters before, and how it is some of the most challenging music he has ever played. His enthusiasm for the work being done in these songs was contagious, and after seeing the ease with which he attacks his guitar, I wanted to hear anything he considered difficult to play. I asked a few friends what they knew of the band and listened to a few tracks. My hardcore days are mostly behind me, but they were never quite like this. The dissonance and structure in their songs is something not many bands actively attempt or achieve. I was interested. So when I found out about their reunion show in Pawtucket, RI (about 15 minutes from where I live), I thought it might be worth checking out. Even if it wasn’t something I would listen to regularly or love, it would be an experience to see them live. To be there in person to hear all the angular pieces fall sharply into place.
Even as an outsider among a crowd of devoted fans (I met a few people who flew in from Europe for the show, and heard about someone coming from as far as Israel), I could feel the energy in the building, growing from the time I walked in until Daughters took the stage. I can’t imagine a better way to play to that electricity than opening with The Dead Singer, a song that seems to be designed to instill an immediate need for cathartic release, a release that doesn’t come for the longest ninety seconds you’ve ever clenched your fists to. What followed was roughly an hour of high intensity music that crawls under your skin like a painful tic that you become irrationally protective of. I started to see how a band that I had never even heard of before had such a devoted following. Daughters aren’t for everyone, but there may not be many other places you can get what they have to give.
I’ve been listening to Daughters a lot since that show, and it’s fun to listen to music so much heavier than anything I’ve been listening to for quite some time. More than that, though, I forgot how much fun it is to find something new. In the age of streaming music services, we’ve all heard everything already. (3-piece-prog-bluegrass-core is totally played out.) The itch for something new can be a dangerous impulse to follow in your day to day life, but can and should be at least occasionally embraced when it comes to music. Sometimes the only way to scratch it is to rub against the things you used to avoid.
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