Portrait of the Music Critic as a Young Man, p. 2

I know the "punk scene" is a little ridiculous, especially today, with 45 year old stockbrokers at Black Rebel Motorcycle Club shows (I saw this with my own eyes, email me for details). But I was totally into it. Getting into Punk for the first time is something I can never relive and never pay back. The whole essence of it was so accepting. It seemed as though because all of these people were outcasts in their time, they needed something to level the playing field. They found a common ground with their audience of misfits. And did it matter if the music was particularly good? Sometimes, but not really. Any shmuck with a guitar can play a punk song. That's why it's so important. It's upset kids challenging their energy into short, quick spurts of rock and roll. No one goes out and gets a drum machine to sound like the Backstreet Boys. Frustrated kids pick up guitars and thrash away because they have genuine feelings.

Of course, punk has lost its seriousness in the past few years thanks to Southern Californian "Skater" punk. I'm not talking about Rancid, obviously, but about MxPx and Blink 182 and their ilk. It's not that the music is so bad, but the idea is gone.

Like a lot of other music people, though, I quickly learned that something was brewing in New York and selected other areas of the world. This, "new" rock and roll" would strip it down "old school" and hopefully end the pop mania that has engulfed the globe since Titanic came out. Of course I'm talking about Ra-Rock and The Strokes.

Now, I know what you're thinking. "The Strokes? Micah is so lame."

So this is stage three: Get over it. Love them, kind of love them, pretend not to love them or hate them, The Strokes arrived with a wave of hype so huge, I don't think anyone saw the countless other Ra-Rock bands coming. They let good bands like The White Stripes, The Hives, The Mooney Suzuki, The French Kicks and The Walkmen sneak through the door of the mainstream. Let's make one thing clear. THIS IS A GOOD THING.

Sometimes people can just take the "scene" thing too far, and move from finding common ground and community to being ridiculous. For example, my friend Paul is a Hardcore kid. He loves Bane, Hope Conspiracy, Panic, American Nightmare, Most Precious Blood and the like. Me, I'm not too much into hardcore. The closest I can get is Fugazi, Minor Threat, Thursday and Cave In. Fine. But what's amazing about the hardcore scene is that there are so many factions within its own scene. There's the Posicore kids. There are the Mod kids. There are the Indie Mod kids, and the Youth Crew kids. It goes on and on. And none of them like each other! Wow. Listen, you're all there to mosh your hearts out, why stay in separate areas? That is fucking lame.

So, clearly, it's a delicate balance. I don't fit into a scene anymore, and don't really care to. (As I'm writing this, I'm listening to Pet Sounds. Not very punk.) My favorite bands list changes monthly. I get odd looks at certain shows because I don't fit into the right categories. Most of all, I try not to be a music snob, although there's only so much of my sister's Paul Oakenfold I can listen to before I shoot myself. Life is complicated.

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Photo of the French Kicks: Neil Motteram

Micah Welner has worked at MTV, channeled Andy Kaufman, and most recently attended SVA in New York.

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