Who Wants a Scene?

Abstract: The creation of a "scene," or an underground supporting similar sounding music for the purposes of social gathering, eventually has social effects in the normative and compromise-oriented nature of the music produced for the resulting audience, who support a scene more than they support innovative or elemental art.

Many people in the extreme music communities want to make a "scene": an existence of bands, labels, fans, and music-sellers who come together to support a type of music. Sounds great, right?

fly on screen A "scene" means music that is consistent enough for people not to care what band is playing, so they can socialize in the same environment time and time again. A "scene" is clubs that play music that sounds very similar time and time again so they know they can draw an audience each time. A "scene" are sellers of music who find bands that sound like each other so they can compare past successes to the next generation, getting a crop of already-proven fans to come buy it all again. The variation is dead - the conformity is absolute. And worst of all, it's voluntary and in a moral facilitative society there are few arguments accepted against it.

That kind of consistency kills music by raising the level of expectation to an entry requirement. The hardcore "scene" murdered hardcore by making it consistent - acceptable - "fun" and extremely similar. Bands who used to fight for a living could suddenly find central places to play, sell and broadcast their music - but in order to do so, they had to make it fit within expectations. Metal will die with a scene or without some form of one.

brainless manatee who bought a pantera CD instead of demilichThe "underground" is a plausible alternative: a decentralized structure in which fans act independently to share information about aspects they like of certain bands or ideas within a genre of music. The genre defines the basis of the music - its theory, its philosophy and most of its aesthetic - but the rest is the responsibility of the innovators who emerge with each new generation of bands. Who would want to steal from their children? Innovation is not a duty or a curse - its a joy, like the culmination of an act of love, in meshing one's will with the complexity of the universe in order to appreciate both oneself and one's existence. The next generation is always granted that fresh slate - new territory to explore, a chance to self-define their lives -- ..?

Support the end to the suffocation of music by the force that lurks behind commercialism: the desire for consistency over adventure. Act on your own and with others through a process based on mutual respect and autonomy. If you like death metal, black metal, thrash, grindcore, speed metal and doom/heavy metal, you will want to support those genres by helping them grow - rather than nailing them into categories of similarity so they can serve a purpose for fans. Art is the will of Satan: never bending to the will of others, it finds its own path as a way of forging new complexity in a world that would otherwise stagnate with age.

goathead Return to columns listing.

Copyright © 1988-2007 the Dark Legions Archive