Dear cynics and general fun-spoilers,
What is it about fans of bands and/or musicians that makes you so mad? Is it the miles we travel or the places we see? Is it the fun we have or the friends we make? It seems that being a fan that dares attend a concert more than once in a socially acceptable time frame is labelled, at best as an embarrassment and at worst as obsessive. I’m a little confused at that simplistic analogy. As a huge fan of a band since the age of 16 (I am now 21), I have nothing but good to say about it.
I guess the common misconception would be that a “super fan” has no life outside of the music they follow. Well that’s a pretty low blow even for the most cynical among you. It’s a little worrying that you are willing to patronise a whole array of teenage girls and boys, as well as grown women and men who actually find comfort in many aspects of their lives, music being just one of them. For example, during an album release or touring season, focus may well be on the latest gigs and songs. But shock horror – many have school to attend, work to succeed in and families to devote time too. And trust me, we do it all well. From personal experience, me and my friends between us juggle relationships, businesses, travelling the world, careers, even children – and still manage to make it to gigs. To suggest that multitasking is limited to domestic goddesses and busy businessmen is to undermine our abilities to be well rounded people at all. Music may play a big part in someone’s life, but that’s not to say everything else takes a back seat.
So what about the sheer amount we attend? I know the concept of going to so many concerts, often per tour, confuses a lot of people so maybe a simple explanation can ease your unfounded concern. Believe it or not, many of us never foresaw where our love for a particular band/artist would lead. It usually begins with that first concert where we had never seen anything so spectacular/heartwarming/happy. And that soon, as you can reasonably imagine, leads to a second. After all, if you enjoyed the first film in a trilogy, it would be natural to watch the rest. It is usually around this point you meet others in queues, on front rows, on social media who invite you to concerts near them. And so the journeys to other cities and, dare I say it out loud, other countries begin. Soon after that the assumption that you will do as many as you can physically manage (and afford) becomes the aim. Why? I couldn’t possibly answer that on behalf of every fan that exists. It’s a whole other world to delve into the reasoning behind what we do but to list a bare few it’s probably this: escape, fun, friendship, love of music, love of good times, something different, a hobby… Which leads me to my next point.
Music is essentially a hobby. It is on par with someone who insists on knitting every hour or a football fan with a season ticket. Listening to albums, memorising lyrics, feeling a connection to a single song or a whole discography is all part of that hobby. The more you get involved, the more you find to love. It really is that simple. I’ve often heard the sentence uttered, sometimes innocently but other times with a hint of jealously, “how can you afford it?”. Well, the same way we all find money for our vices. Smoking costs a fair amount. Drinking down the local every Friday and Saturday night would certainly leave me with little spare change. I know many my age who are wearing the latest clothes, who make regular trips to the cinema or take huge pride in updating their homes (admittedly new kitchens and bathrooms make me a little jealous until I remember what I have instead). Providing there’s a source of income for a hobby – it’s completely irrelevant to me how it is spent.
There’s a lot in the world that can broaden your mind. Books, education, even life itself. But I know for certain that music, the musicians themselves and all that goes with that world has allowed me to see and feel more than I ever did before. Seeing the world and meeting like-minded people is just a part of that and if that’s not a good enough reason on it’s own to be a fan, I truly don’t know what is. There’s always an element of embarrassment to admit being a “fan” of something like a band, possibly because it conjures up pictures of screaming girls and Beatle mania. But I assure you, many of us are perfectly sane in that sense. And proudly “uncool” if that’s what it means.
I always try to avoid justifying something I love. It’s hard when you are often met with raised eyebrows and the term “so you’re a groupie?” but I guess that’s all part of it. It’s all part of a widespread inability of some to see the world through another’s eyes and to accept that for those of us who are fans, music is a big part of life. It’s as essential as a bubble bath at the end of a long week or a strong drink on Sunday night to face Monday morning. And sometimes? It’s really is just a night on the town.
Finally, the question I always ask myself when contemplating that gig next month and the plane ticket to go with it is this: Why not? I never ask why I should go or listen to that song on repeat. A more sensible question is always WHY NOT? And if you can’t answer that… Then there’s your answer.
So to the cynics and general fun-spoilers, please have a think. Have a think about what makes you light up. Have a think about what you do with your life and embrace it. Now extend that feeling to us and understand that really, we’re no different to you. I think the world is set up to create divides and if music has taught me one thing, it’s that whoever and wherever we are, we can come together somehow. Even if that’s simply in understanding.
Yours, A super uncool, super fan.