Part of the Problem

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a band that everyone else in Seattle seems to adore but that I find annoying to the point of as fuck, and while I watched this band, I kept thinking of this thing I’d retweeted a couple of days before:

jazmasta tweet

Look, I get the thing about loud bands, fun bands, party bands, and silly bands, and I don’t have a problem with any of those things. It’s just that I get the impression that this band is all of these things as a ploy, which I guess it okay since nobody starts a band for zero attention, it’s just that it’s so extreme and fucking dumb in this case that I wish they’d just complete the circle and make the transition to being a house band for a kid’s show on PBS, already.

It’s so aggressively ridiculous that I’m certain this band is very serious about it. About themselves. Their image. Like, it sounds big and hilarious and hey everybody, let’s dance!, but I sense a whole level of giving a fuck going on and it just seems like a lot of pretense to me. There’s a reason there’s only one Flaming Lips, and this band I saw can’t quite execute the concept of making weird art that’s important and frivolous at the same time, and it’s uncomfortable to watch them try so hard. I mean, it should be fun, both for them to attempt and for me to witness, but I can tell they think they’re crucial, and as a person who shies away from costumes and themes and forced joviality on principle, I don’t trust the motivation there and I suspect there’s a compensation struggle going on.

There’s a female in the band, as well, although I can’t really figure out why. It’s as if she’s filling the spot of a token female, since musically, she doesn’t seem to fill a useful role. Even when she doesn’t wear this one dumb-looking costume, she apes around making stupidly exaggerated faces and truly, she might be one of the prime examples I’d provide if asked to explain white girls to a group of aliens.

At one point in the show, my friend noticed my reaction to her, leaned over and said, “I think she’s a yoga instructor outside the band.”

“Of course she is,” I answered. “And judging by that and this little part she plays here, I’m guessing her parents are pretty rich and she’s the type of person for whom the term ‘follow your dreams’ has never been a cruel joke.”

And it turns out her parents really are rich, like, exceedingly so, and this made me think of the parental support bestowed upon certain people, including my neighbors, all of whom are in their mid-20s and drive great cars and live in a crazy expensive place but only work low-paying part-time jobs that give them the luxury of free time they spend sitting around smoking outside for most of the day.

Isn’t it funny how this kind of thing is so obvious in some people and the way they walk through the world? Courtney and I discussed this topic in general recently, about how it’s so easy to feel jealous and shitty towards someone because they grew up wealthy or had this or that break when you had none, and about how that’s not totally fair because it’s not their fault, but how it feels fair sometimes because it’s not so much the person’s circumstances, but their perception of them vs. those of others that really grinds our gears at times.

See, I’ve known some wealthy people – or rather, people who grew up wealthy – who had no fucking idea they were wealthy, who would insist that they were completely middle class or even poor (and I shit you not, every single one of these people has pointed to their semi-regular consumption of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in their childhoods as evidence that they were once poor). It’s hard to explain to these people that being poor is something far different and bleaker than the occasional consumption of a processed side dish, and even harder to explain that what they believed to be their birthright is something that most of the world – and a substantial portion of America – would consider to be insanely fortunate. And, just like the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese justification, every single of these people will respond with a variation of “well, my parents are rich, but I’m not.”

Cute. That may be true, but don’t ignore the advantages you’ve had because your parents are rich. You’ve been taken care of in ways that I and many other people who came from different circumstances could never even dream of, and while you might not be getting an allowance anymore now that you’re 30 (or your allowance is a wee bit smaller), you’ve still had the tuition and the car payments and probably part (or all, I’ve seen that, too) of the house you live in covered by those parents. And that’s the same thing as being rich, because on top of all that, your parents have to die eventually, and I’m betting you’ll get paid when the time comes.

But again, it’s not their fault, because who’s going to reject a paid-in-full college education? A down payment on a house? A hundred other bills covered by someone else while you sort of bounce around aimless and happy, trying to figure out your purpose in life? Not me. Not if it had been offered. Of course, I’m aware that this would have contributed to me being afflicted by that bubble surrounding people in these circumstances, the one that keeps out information about the reality of poverty, struggle, and what it means to be disadvantaged. It’s so easy to ignore when you’re not living it, or when you didn’t grow up understanding its lifelong effect.

I admit that this was probably not the best state of mind to have when I agreed to see this show. I admit that my issues with wealth have left me troubled beyond a state that could be fixed by brainless party bop music. I admit that maybe I should start doing drugs again, as everyone at the show who’d already made that decision seemed unbothered by issues of class, feminism, and other things that are really fucking irritating. I admit that jealousy is a bitter, green-eyed beast, and that perhaps I’m kiiiiiind of feeding the one inside me by spending my day off playing what I call the Fantasy Real Estate Game, which is when I choose a city I like and start looking up real estate there — using real estate sites and Google street view — with no price limit. Right now I’m in Fantasy London, and oh man would you guys like to come over.

Just please bring better music.

About erineph

I'm Erin. I have tattoos and more than one cat. I am an office drone, a music writer, and an erstwhile bartender. I am a cook in the bedroom and a whore in the kitchen. Things I enjoy include but are not limited to zombies, burritos, Cthulhu, Kurt Vonnegut, Keith Richards, accordions, perfumery, and wearing fat pants in the privacy of my own home.
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