I'm not going to begrudge anyone for not knowing who Coachella headliners The Stone Roses are. The simple fact is that their first album, (the only one that really matters), came out in 1989. If you're in college now, you most likely weren't even born then. Plus, The Stone Roses were a bigger deal in the U.K. than in the U.S.
Out in Los Angeles, if you were into the band, it's probably because you were the sort of weirdo who listened to KROQ and watched MTV's 120 Minutes. Even if you were a teenager in the United States in the late 1980s and early 1990s, chances are good that you could have lived your life without ever hearing them. But, do you really have to tweet, “Who are The Stone Roses?” Come on, they're on Spotify.
Here's a little music geek advice that I tweeted when everyone was either boo-hooing The Stone Roses' headlining gig or ranting about how youth today has no idea who the band is.
The thing is, you have to be a poseur before you can truly be a music geek. None of us nerds started out with an encyclopedic knowledge of late-1980s Manchester bands or record collections that fill entire rooms. Before we really acquired our knowledge, we faked it. Back in the 20th century, this required actually walking into record stores, purchasing physical albums and buying magazines imported from the U.K. These days it's a lot easier, but the steps you'll need to take are essentially the same.
Here are the four things you need to do to go from poseur to real deal music geek:
Back in the late 1970s and early '80s, there was a band called Bauhaus. They had a single called “Bela Lugosi's Dead” (you likely hear it every Halloween), did a spot-on cover of “Ziggy Stardust” and appeared in the David Bowie/Catherine Deneuve vampire flick The Hunger. If you have any interest in spooky alternative music, you know about Bauhaus. They basically pioneered what we now call goth.
When I was in middle school, I had never heard of the band. I wore all black, however, so older kids at the mall all assumed I was a Bauhaus fan. I played along, which wasn't that hard since I was into Peter Murphy (the band's former frontman) and Love and Rockets, (a band composed of the rest of the members of Bauhaus).
The thing about music geeks is that they're probably going to namedrop 50 bands in one conversation. If you know 10% of those bands, you're alright. Just pretend you know exactly what they're saying, and they will move along. You don't have to make the comment about first albums, but it's a nice touch. Debuts hold a special place in the hearts of nerds, as they are often far more raw than anything the band did later, (Nirvana Bleach), or have a different line-up, (Depeche Mode Speak & Spell), or sound like a completely different band (Ministry With Sympathy). These days, you can get by with a little help from your phone. Pretend you're returning a text from your mom and just look up the group on Wikipedia.
After you pretend to know who a band is, it's vital to actually listen to some of their music. After faking my way through a Bauhaus conversation or two, I went to the record store that was across the street from my school. They didn't have the band's first album, so I started out with a cassette of their third release The Sky's Gone Out.
The Internet makes this step much, much easier. Between iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp and a host of other sites, you'll likely be able find what you need. If you don't want buy the music, hit up Spotify. It's not there, it's likely on YouTube.
When I sat down and listened to The Sky's Gone Out on my Walkman, I knew I was in love with the band. Bauhaus was better than Peter Murphy and Love and Rockets combined! I begged my mom to drive me to Hollywood so I could go to a store called Vinyl Fetish and buy music that wasn't available in the Valley. After I got the cassettes and CDs, I moved on to vinyl. (This is a vital step for any aspiring music geek). I searched head shops for t-shirts and stickers. Years later, I caught Bauhaus on their reunion tour. This trajectory may not be the same for all music nerds, but it is a strong possibility.
It is also important for music nerds to like bands who never became household names. (Don't be intimidated. If we mention such a name around you, it's probably because we think it's something you'll like). Trust us, the same way I trusted the Northridge Fashion Center goths back in the day.
It may take a few years, but one day, you will wake up and realize that you don't have to fake it anymore. You now have a vast arsenal of music-related trivia at your disposal. You're able to carry on an hour-long conversation about obscure B-sides. You can write dissertations on how bands that never blew up inspired extremely famous groups that came later. Your friends gawk when they see that you own vinyl usually only found on record store walls.
Your poseur skin has officially molted. You are a music geek. Congratulations, and welcome to the club.
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