The End of Musical Tribes

When you were growing up, what did you do to signal to the rest of the world who you were? A lot of us did it with music. By identifying with and adopting the trappings of a specific genre, music was a projection of your identity to the world, a “HELLO MY NAME IS” badge that others could immediately recognize.

These tribes and silos could be very rigid. In my case, I became a member of the alternative club, those weirdos on the fringes of rock’n’roll who insisted on not conforming with whatever the mainstream was doing. I wasn’t very overt about my affiliation–I wasn’t into the hair or the fashion–but I was extremely vocal, defensive and proud of my position as a musical outsider. I was proud of it.

There were other tribes: pop kids, hair metal fans, dance clubbers and plenty others. Moving from tribe to tribe was next to impossible. You’d beaten up trying to get into the new tribe and then beaten again as you tried to return to your old club.

Now, though, things are different. The concept of the musical tribe is dead–mostly. Here’s more from The Guardian.

We hunt in packs. It’s human nature. We do it to protect ourselves from the threat of attack, loneliness and to gather food. And while we are at it, our packs develop their own cultures, beliefs and ways of behaving. That includes ways to amuse ourselves when not much is happening. Thankfully, we don’t have to go out and kill yaks any more, but while the technology has moved on from the wheel to the microchip, our mentality has not.

We are still tribal; the old are still trying to control the young, and the young are still trying to break free from the mortal enemies of parents, poverty and boredom. The tensions are the same as ever. But now they are being worked out in a digital world and not the real one – a world where physical strength, or even physical presence, is no longer needed.

More can be found here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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