Pop Punk Renaissance

| October 11, 2017 | 0 Comments

I went to a Bastille concert last month. The atmosphere was calm, almost peaceful, despite the hardcore fans in the floor sections, and I couldn’t put my finger on why. Then I remembered the last few concerts I went to: twenty one pilots, Panic! at the Disco, and Fall Out Boy. That’s why this concert seemed so tame.

For those unfamiliar with the scene, pop punk fans (especially teenage girls) go absolutely rabid for these bands, who are mostly 20-something year-old white guys writing songs that could be viewed as somewhat connected to mental health and a sense of community. These fans constantly insist that these bands saved their lives, that the members are their “precious boys,” and harass people on Twitter and Tumblr for disagreeing with them or calling them out.

Not to say that teen girl culture isn’t valid: after all, teen girls gave us the Beatles. This demographic has been pushing bands to fame for decades, dictating trends and making or breaking careers. For some bands, it’s their most valuable fanbase. And honestly, I’d be lying if I never thought Panic! at the Disco “saved my life” when I was 14. I understand exactly where they’re coming from.

However, when I first began my pop punk phase, the culture was very different. There was limited social media usage, since the major sites were still growing in popularity and not everyone had an iPhone to track the bands’ every move. I bonded over pop punk with my friends from school, not strangers over the Internet, and I was certainly not allowed to dress like a stereotypical late-00s scene kid to express my undying love for men who were 15 years older than me. Our fanfiction and artwork were usually hidden on exclusive forums and blogs, not proudly displayed on Tumblr daring others to take offense. The Internet has removed boundaries from fandom, which is mostly a good thing, but for kids who haven’t learned when to stop, this lack of guidelines can allow them to overstep their boundaries and make other people uncomfortable or upset.

I still enjoy the music, but as I’ve aged I’ve been able to take a step back from the almost cult-ish nature of the fanbase. It’s almost exhausting dealing with this new generation screaming bloody murder while I try to enjoy a concert. At risk of sounding like an old grandpa of the fandom, sometimes I wish these crazy kids would just calm down and stop shouting at me.

I can’t come to a satisfying conclusion: am I too old for this now? Should I move on from the music the same way I left the fandom behind? Should I try and warn the new wave of pop punk kids to not lose their heads, or should I step back and let them have their loud, sometimes problematic fun? I don’t have these answers right now. All I can do is move on with my own life, and maybe go to some tamer concerts in the future.

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featured photo credit: morten f Gust via photopin (license)

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Category: featured, Music, Reflections, Social Activism

Charlie Scanlan

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Charlie is a journalism major in the College of Communication.

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