Am I one of those boring hipsters?
by Nelson Bae
There I was . . . sold-out show. Bootleg Theater in Filipinotown. Hot, new UK band Alt-J was headlining and nothing but global Armageddon would prevent me from seeing them perform in the flesh. I’m a music supervisor and part of my job is to find up-and-coming music artists to recommend to film/TV/videogame clients for use in future projects.
As I stood outside waiting for Kelly to sort out her own ticket situation, I glanced at the demographic makeup that surrounded me. Lots of young twenty-somethings dressed in their ironic t-shirts, skinny jeans and dark-framed glasses. Everyone seems to be donning eyeglasses these days as if a sudden pandemic of myopia has plagued hipster America. I hear that the uber-chic kids in Seoul have started wearing just frames. That’s right, no glass whatsoever, just frames. Isn’t it ironic that hipsters strain to brand their own individuality via Facebook/Twitter/ Instagram/etc., but dress in the same outfits as their peers, like uniformed lemmings swimming all over the Eastside.
This is the milieu that I witness almost every night of the week. Whether I’m at the Troubadour, the Echo, the Satellite. The venue may change, but it’s the same crowd. Night after night. The boys sport beards like a facial badge of hipsterdom. The girls have all mastered that pout of boredom . . . you see, looking bored = cool (i.e. I’m so unimpressed).
This is my crowd. I’m sure I look like them. I’m sure I am one with them. I fit in with this crowd. But then I catch a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror, and then the sudden realization sets in that I’m not one of them.
Maybe it’s the age lines around my eyes. Maybe it’s the gray hairs that have sprouted on my head. Maybe I missed the first hint when the doorman didn’t even bother to ask for my ID at the door.
No, I don’t fit in with this crowd. Truth is, I’m middle-aged and I’m old enough to be their dad. And yet, here I am in my black motorcycle boots . . . I’m certain Ponce de Leon’s quest for the Fountain of Youth led him to a pair of Frye’s motorcycle boots, roaming the late-night music circuit. I don’t feel old. Inside, I feel just as young as I did . . . 20 years ago. Except back then, when fashion du jour meant flannel shirts and thrift-store jackets, I truly was the same age as my crowd. Now, it’s as if everyone around me remained frozen at age 24 and I’m the only one getting older. Is this Logan’s Run? And they just forgot to come get me?
The show was great. Alt-J brings a fresh sound from across the pond. The crowd sings along in unison. And I am right up front singing along, reveling in that euphoric high that I chase most nights of the week where band and crowd become one.
When the house lights go on, I file out of the building into the cool night air along with the masses. All of us have that look of exhilarated bliss on our faces that signify we just experienced something special. I can’t wait to put this feeling into words on my keyboard later. Twenty years ago, it was Pearl Jam or U2 or Rage Against the Machine. Today, it’s the Lumineers or Mumford & Sons or Alt-J.
The bands may change. But that feeling of post-show rapture hasn’t changed. I still feel it. I still chase it.
I’m still young. I’m still young. If I close my eyes and say it over and over, I can even convince myself into believing it.
Something Good video: