Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hipster Battle

I know that what I’m about to admit will draw ire from the Hipster Elders. From atop their ornate thrones constructed out of old fixie bicycles, they’ll sip local microbrews from ironic, jewel-encrusted crunk goblets and glare at me scornfully through thick-rimmed black plastic glasses. I understand this, yet I must be true to myself and divulge a disgraceful secret: I don’t enjoy live music. In fact, I sort of hate it.

I’ve tried for years to ingratiate myself into the live music scene with little luck. In Portland, it’s almost mandatory to be an avid concert-goer, lest you fall behind on whatever new band is hot right now. “Have you heard about that new chick who plays a harp made entirely out of elk bones? She lost her fingers in an airplane propeller so she plays with her toes. I can’t stand her music but she’s so cool.”

I’ve witnessed fleeting moments of subtle brilliance at live shows, but I mostly find myself standing around, lingering in boredom, my mind wandering while some scruffy singer-songwriter plucks away at a worn guitar onstage mumbling about heartbreak. In all likelihood, my inability to appreciate live music is probably a personality flaw, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m usually bored out of my gourd at concerts. I’ll find myself daydreaming and thinking about other stuff, like if the sweater I bought last month can still be returned, or I’ll make lists in my head of what I want for dinner later.

 concert_crowd 

I certainly don’t hate music, and I’d be upset if I gave that impression. If fact I consider myself quite musically savvy, and I enjoy making bold, obnoxious claims about the music scene: “Azealia Banks is over! 2013 is the year of the sitar! Ke$ha is actually a creative genius!” Sure, I almost never update my Facebook with Mumford and Sons lyrics or abandon a certain beloved indie band when they gain mainstream exposure, but that doesn’t mean my appreciation for music isn’t heartfelt.

Portland is so saturated with good music and it would be a crime to pass up the myriad of bands that pass through playing shows. I attend concerts partly to offset the guilt I feel for pirating MP3’s all day, and partly in hopes that whatever show I see will offer up some little nugget of magic to compensate for the hours spent standing around wondering how much longer the set list will be. Sometimes I get lucky and the band will play a chilling acoustic rendition of some 80’s Janet Jackson hit, or perhaps Tay Zonday will unexpectedly show up as a guest vocalist, but for the most part I’d rather enjoy music at home while I doodle fat Batmans and watch Property Virgins on mute. I'm a super busy guy, so I need to multitask.

To me, the entire concept of a concert is inherently strange: a bunch of people crammed shoulder to shoulder, quiet and reverent, watching somebody beneath a spotlight make noises at them. The worst part is that I can’t even skip over the songs I don’t like. Additionally, I can't help but wonder what it must look like to the musician, gazing out into a sea of solemn faces.

 concert_goers 

Because I don't want to come off like some grumpy villain in a Saturday morning cartoon, I go to concerts, pretend to have fun, and wait patiently for something in my brain to click (spoiler alert: nothing’s clicked yet, but I’ll continue to persist).

On occasion something will happen at a music venue to make the excursion worthwhile. Sometimes it has nothing to do with the music at all.

Several months ago I dragged myself to a show across the river, expecting little more than sore feet and possibly some damaged eardrums depending on how close I situated myself to the speakers. I skipped out on the opening act and arrived late. Luckily the friend I was meeting there had scoped out some prime real estate near the front of the stage. I hadn’t heard of the band, but it was one of those poppy ensembles that makes patently catchy music, but avoids being pigeonholed as “Top 40” by way of goofy outfits and weird haircuts. I did a tiny Liz Lemon-style eye roll and congratulated myself on seeing through their shtick, but the beats were pure and unpretentious, so I succumbed to the rhythm and danced along with everyone else.

A few songs in, I became aware of someone jabbing me repeatedly from behind. I glanced over my shoulder and noticed a lanky hipster dude had wormed his way to the front of the crowd with his potato-shaped girlfriend in tow. They were dancing in that specific sort of way intended to cause trouble. If moshing is still a thing, I’m unaware, but the two of them were clearly attempting something of the sort. Whatever the case, they were creating a ruckus, jabbing and thrusting and generally being assholes.

 concert_hipsters

Hipsterrrrrrrrr…” I hissed under my breath. I shot the guy a dirty look and turned my attention back to the stage, hoping my sneer would be enough to stop any further disturbance on his part.

The word “hipster” is problematic, as I’m unsure it has any real meaning at this point. Five or so years ago it was used to refer to snarky vegans in Williamsburg who rode bikes to their nondescript media jobs and wore keffiyehs in the middle of August. Now I think it’s a catch-all to mean “anything I personally don’t understand or care about,” which creates this strange cycle of would-be hipsters putting down other would-be hipsters, while the world’s soccer moms and geologists watch from the sidelines, wondering what the fuss is about.

I used the term hipster to describe the people thrashing about behind me because I don’t know what term would be more apt. The guy had a full tattoo sleeve consisting of generic symbols—stars, koi fish, an octopus—and he had one of those haircuts that seemed to defy gravity. I’ve always wondered if hipster kids just wildly chop at their own locks or if they go to barbershops and specifically ask for terrible cuts.

  concert_salon 

As Hipster Dude flayed about, whacking people around him, his girlfriend stood by his side looking lumpy and miserable as potato girlfriends are wont to do (on a side note, why is it that waif-thin hipster guys always seem to date miserable potato girls? I don’t understand my generation). Twice Hipster Dude almost sent the girl next to me to the floor, and twice I turned around and told him to knock it off. Both times I was met with a steely, defiant gaze of indifference. When he almost toppled the girl for a third time, I figured something needed to be done.

My best friend in high school once told me that when he was a kid and people would talk during movies, he’d imagine himself running across the tops of their heads like a feather-light ninja, chopping off the heads of the worst offenders with a make-believe katana. It made him feel better to exact fictional, over the top revenge, especially because in reality he couldn’t do much to alter the situation. I can relate to that sort of wishful thinking, even in adulthood. When Hipster Dude made it clear he had no intention of calming down, notions of reality blurred in my brain. What really happened—what is true and what only occurred in my imagination—is foggy. Fact and fiction merged at some point during the fight that ensued.

In the beginning, only words were flung. I turned around fully and pointedly asked the kid what his problem was. He flipped his hair out of his face, cocked his head at me, and asked me what I planned to do about it. He stepped closer to me, and I narrowed my eyes at him. A Hipster Battle had been engaged.

  concert_battle 

At first, our scuffle was tame and went unnoticed in the raucous crowd. Round One consisted of hurling insults at each other. I made fun of his haircut, which didn’t seem to faze him.

concert_haircut 

My lanky opponent appeared weak, but looks can be deceiving, and hipsters can be tricky to engage in combat. They don’t fight fair, and their gluten-free diets make them spry and lithe. I tried my best to keep my head in the game. I called him an “emo douchenozzle,” and followed up with a counterattack.

 concert_blitz 

I could tell my purposefully incorrect labeling of my opponent as “emo” had taken him by surprise and caused his ego to fracture, but little good it did. His return attack was fierce. A flurry of American Spirit Golds.

 concert_cigarettes 

I was in trouble. People around us were beginning to notice that a brawl was taking place, though from their perspective it undoubtedly appeared as if two skinny white boys were engaged in a low-impact slap fight. In my head, and I’m sure in my opponent’s as well, the fight was epic and dramatic. I switched gears and brought out the big guns.

 concert_lasers 

I’ve only been in one other fight in my life. It was during homecoming in ninth grade, and I lost that fight. I came away with nothing to show for myself save for a black eye. I'm sure I could have held my own in the battle with Hipster Dude had we been playing on a level field, but he had the unfair advantage in the form of a potato-shaped cheerleader rooting for him and giving him strength. One energizing can of PBR later and my foe was back in action.

 concert_beer 

With no support units of my own, I knew I was in dire straits. It was time for my Fatality. I whipped out the one weapon I knew could turn the tides in my favor.

 concert_allstar 

My finishing move was a success; Hipster Dude and his tater tot of a girlfriend were laid to waste, fried to bits.

 concert_fried 

I swear on a million bibles that that's how it all went down. Either that, or a bouncer saw a shoving match happening in the audience, and after I whined about how the guy was "being meeeean to me!", escorted my adversary out of the venue. Regardless, Hipster Dude was the one that got kicked out, not me, which means I won. In my head, I always win.

Over time, when I tell this story to my grandchildren (or robot grandchildren, should it turn out I can’t conceive naturally), I imagine the hipster guy will morph into a member of a drug cartel, and the skirmish will transform into a devastating gunfight. By the time I’m ninety, I’ll claim that I single-handedly destroyed a fleet of Decepticons, after which President Beyoncé knighted me as a retroactive member of the 1991 Chicago Bulls team. Perhaps one of my robot grandchildren will question the truth in my tale, but I will simply reply, “Hush, idiot. It’s true if I say it is. Don't make me take out your batteries.” Then I will quietly sip my liquid space-meatloaf, gaze out the window, and reminisce about the time I saved the world.

 concert_victory

99 comments:

  1. Brilliant! Now I have a mighty craving to go watch Scott Pilgrim, brb

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    Replies
    1. It does have that vibe doesn't it. XD

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    2. No thanks, I don't smoke.

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  2. loving the potato girlfriend, all blown up with a yummy buttery center.

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  3. I so wish you were gay so that we could have Gaybies and you could tell them stories such as this to put them to bed with nightmares in their head.

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    Replies
    1. Doesn't he seem so gay though?!

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    2. He definitely thinks he, himself is adorable. That's for sure.

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  4. Is this a redone old post?

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    1. yeah, it was about a robyn concert before. i totally recognize the beard lasers. and the potato girlfriend.

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    2. I wondered why I'd read it before.

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  5. Well played sir, well played. I hate moshers; at what point did it become cool to be a semi-violent douche nozzle to the people around you?

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  6. This is so awesome that I just don't know what to do about it.

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  7. mom phrase: bored out of my gourd. love it.

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  8. This was great. You're a MAN

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  9. I remember hipster dude and his potato girlfriend, haha. I love this one. Well done.

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  10. President Beyonce... I really like that vision of the future!

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  11. Didn't you... already write this?

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    1. That's what I thought, too.

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    2. I think I've read all his posts already, repeatedly sometimes, and I haven't found a single repost, definitely not this one. duh!

      And hey, I love you Adam ;)

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  12. Oh, man. That was great! I didn't bother reading the other comments. So, if anyone else has stated what I'm about to then you all will just have to deal with it.

    Moshing, most definitely, is still a thing. You, typically, have to go to metal or punk shows to see it. What that "guy" was doing moshing at that concert, I've no idea.

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  13. OMG A SMASH MOUTH CASSINGLE. AMAZING.

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  14. I came for the Beard Lasers, but stayed for President Beyoncé.

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  15. "By the time I’m ninety, I’ll claim that I single-handedly destroyed a fleet of Decepticons, after which President Beyoncé knighted me as a retroactive member of the 1991 Chicago Bulls team." Best.

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  16. Just glad to not be alone in my distaste for live music. The shame!!!!

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    1. Exactly my thoughts too!! It's so hard coming up with excuses when people offer concert tickets :S

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  17. Thank you for saving the world.

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  18. I love you. Seriously. Everything you write is extraordinarily awesome, and this post was worth the wait.

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  19. Brilliant as always:-)

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  20. I've only been to one live concert in my life (at 20... I'm a late bloomer), and that was Rammstein in Atlanta. Best decision of my life, even if I did have to drive eight hours and take an organic chemistry test on the day after I got back.I got the sense blasted out of me with like thirty hanging subwoofers.I also got fake jizz and Richard Kruspe's spit on me!

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    1. I think you get a free pass for being a late bloomer simply because you waited for Rammstein!!<3

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  21. Oh my gosh, the potato. It's killing me.

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  22. No Adam... Just... No. Not ok. You can't leave us hanging for a month and then do a re-post. That's, like, unethical. I'm sure it's illegal somewhere. I demand a new post! And if i have to use lady-beard lasers to get it, then i will!

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    1. I concur, make that double lady-beards.

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    2. I kinda feel the same way. I mean, I guess he re-does stuff because he's going to put them in a book (or already did and this is a total cop-out) but I was totally into this until the mention of the guy and his crazy hair. Then my interest turned into "Wait a minute, this was already a story. It just has a different beginning now." And then I just scrolled past everything else making sure I hadn't lost my mind. That's not fair to Adam, readers shouldn't just scroll past his work. I'd rather not see anything for a while instead of thinking there's a new story only to come here and see "LOL PSYCHE YOU ALREADY READ THIS ONE."

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    3. I KNOW! I was just so confused. It's almost insulting that you think you can retell the same story and no one will notice. Bad move on your part.

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  23. What did I just read? lol

    Your comics seriously make my day.

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  24. Potato girl being baked made my day. I literally laughed out loud. ( A little too loud)

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  25. You never fail to bring it, Adam!

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  26. I always felt like the only one, but I'm glad to hear that I'm not. I hate live music. Boring. Pointless. The acoustics are always wrong and the bass is always up way too much. I'm also not big on the whole sardine in a tin can feeling, so yeah, no wonder live music never appealed to me. Right on, brotha.

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  27. YESSS! I thought I was the only one who hated live music. I'd rather stay at home and listen to a band on my ipod than stand amidst a crowd of smelly, sweaty 20 somethings who are talking so loud that I can't even really hear the music. Either that or the band is so loud that it's blowing my eardrums out.

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  28. Tater tot = awesome. (Crowds are overrated, and crowded.)

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  29. Yay, you're back!!
    I used to love going to concerts, but I think I'm getting too old.. Now everything annoys me - from the stale beer.. to the constant flow of people going to get stale beer, or empty out their beer tanks to get room for more stale beer.. and the flow of beer seekers for some reason always ends up going right past me. And yes, there always seems to be that one guy (the hipster) making everyone around him miserable.
    In other words, i feel ya Adam!!

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  30. Why all the re-illustrated/re-written comics all of a sudden? Are these the literal books of adam editions?

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  31. Well... In his defense...
    The drawings have evolved and they look different from the first time. Also, the story was told a bit differently.
    Cut him some slack. lol

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  32. Me too! I can't do live music. I get so bored. You're either standing for hours on end or in the horrible stools for hours. Plus, you can't talk! It's a difficult life.

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  33. There are far too many moments in this to pin-point and respond to with "That was fantastic" So I will merely sit at my computer blankly and ponder how joyful your life must be like, drawing fat Batmans, watching 30 ROCK, generally doing things that make you happy or give you ideas for stupendous things to doodle. I applaud everything about this. Everything.

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  34. I hate live music too. Concerts are largely populated with either dirty hippies, hipsters who think they're above everyone else or sluts and douchebags spilling beer on each other. Also, everyone is smashed together and I personally don't want these people rubbing their sweaty, diseased, and/or patchouli-scented carcasses against me.

    And I know this makes me sound like an old person, but so be it: the music is too goddamned loud and I can barely understand the lyrics. What's the point of listening to music if you can't even understand it?

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    1. I concur. And don't forget if you go to a concert where everyone knows the lyrics, all you hear is the audience and not the vocalist. I would much rather listen to music at home, while I paint, or read, or surf the internet.

      Then again, I'm 26 and I tell everyone I'm already old and crotchety. I spout things like "Damn teenagers" and "When I was their age..." If I had a lawn, I'm sure I would yell at them to stay off of it.

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    2. Honey, I'm 21 and I've said "damn teenagers" since I turned 20. It doesn't help that I'm a teacher, so I've been forced to age extremely rapidly, like that one episode of Star Trek.

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  35. Man, I've been trying to find the original beard lasers post but to no luck. Then he puts this out. It mostly fills the void, and this is definitely hilarious, but I still want to re-read the original one. Can anyone help?

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    1. I can't find it anywhere either. Maybe he deleted it?

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    2. I did the same -- would he try to hide it from us when it was already immortalized in a t-shirt? Interesting...

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    3. Yeah, that's definitely very weird. I wonder why he would completely replace the previous hipster battle entry. Maybe he wasn't satisfied with the way it was before? Adam, if you're reading this, please tell us! America wants to know!

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  36. I'm not a huge fan of live concerts, particularly if it requires me to stand. I don't do mosh pits, so if I do go to a concert, I tend to go to the back and hope there is a seat somewhere. Going to see a band tends to be dull because it's just watching people play instruments in a loud uncomfortable setting. You can't talk to the people with you because it's so loud you can't think. Hell, you have to wear earplugs just so you don't damage your eardrums.

    I would like classical music concerts, because it is all very impressive, but I tend to get lulled to sleep, which is very awkward. I remember one particular time, a friend of mine's parents bought me a ticket to see this amazing symphony, and I passed out within the first twenty minutes. I woke up in time to applaud at the end, thank goodness, but I swear I hadn't had better sleep in weeks. If it wasn't so expensive to go, I would buy a ticket any time I have insomnia; it's better than Ambien.

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  37. LOVE. love this entire story.

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  38. Very excellent as always. I myself recently went to a ska concert (oh they still exist) and had a similar foe in a chubby young christian hipster. He was vigorously skanking as if there were no tomorrow, thrashing his elbows around and creating quite a ruckus (as much ruckus a skanking white christian teen can create).
    Anyway. Good job keep it up.


    Minor spelling error in paragraph 4 sentence 2- I believe you meant "in fact".

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  39. It strikes me that 1. most of the people you know read this blog and now know not to necessarily invite you to concerts (or to invite you and watch the ensuing struggle) and 2. you have written a permanent record of how your adversary was in fact a hipster rather than a drug lord or a transformer.

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  40. Tay Zonday lives in Portland now?? I was wondering where he ran off to!

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  41. Has that picture of you to the right always been on your blog? Today is the first time I've noticed it and it freaks me out. Gives off a very weird vibe. Super cheesy and It makes me think of Flynn Rider in "tangled" when he gives "the smolder".-ash

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  42. I must admit, I too go to concerts despite rarely enjoying them. I've even been known to crowd surf on occasion. But not since I landed upon an obscenely tall bald man's shoulders and he refused to put me down for an entire song. Three minutes is a long time to be precariously perched upon a stranger's shoulders. I believe I would still be there, swaying in the wind, if not for some kind lady who jabbed him in the ribs and declared I wanted down.

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  43. That last paragraph was one of the most awesome things I've ever read.

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  44. property virgins is a wonderful show.

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  45. I lived this story, only it involved me getting dragged to a cheesy club in Hollywood and a Russian guy bumping into me as he danced around his potato. What started as a 'watch out for my dance moves/ awkward butt shoves' became two guys fighting over a 6'x6' square of real estate. I don't know why I even bothered, maybe its because I'm a product of the 80's and still held a grudge over what those ruskies did to the Patrick Swayze and the Wolverines.

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  46. Ahahaha I loved the Polaroid blitz! XD

    Also, Tay Zonday as a guest vocalist? That would be way epic.

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  47. " quiet and reverent"

    Someday needs to go to more metal shows..... the answer to a holes in mosh pits is to mosh so hard back they respect you and back down!

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  48. Everything you write is incredibly awesome :)

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  49. As someone about to move to Portland, I am both excited and terrified over the thought of having to always walk around with a Smash Mouth Cassingle to protect myself from level 9 hipster douche hydrants.

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  50. Lita and the boys in MelbourneSeptember 11, 2012 at 5:47 PM

    In my head I always win, too. Oh, and for the "I'm a super busy guy so I have to multi-task" line alone this was worth reading. Gosh, did I laugh...

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  52. This was definitely worth the wait. So much to love, but I loved the fact that you can see her potato insides at the end! LOL "swear on a million bibles that that's how it all went down. Either that, or a bouncer saw a shoving match happening in the audience, and after I whined about how the guy was 'being meeeean to me!'" LMAO Keep writing! And drawing...

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  53. Aw crap...now I want some space meatloaf.

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  54. Literally the only times I watch television is when a good HGTV show (property brothers, house hunters, property virgins, etc.) is on. The few live shows I've seen have been unenjoyable and I found myself counting the minutes. I am surrounded by hoards of questionable hipsters, what with going to school in NYC. You are so gosh darn relatable :'D
    (minus the beard, I have yet to have sprouted one, I'm sad to say)

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  55. Hm...I would say there is a glaring contradiction here: How can you be "bored out of your gourd' at these concerts if "Portland is so saturated with good music?" Sounds like crap lame music is boring you. Also, beard lasers. MUST. BE. A POSTER.

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  56. You should make a subculture Pokemon like card game.

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  57. Lol, I like the token black guy in the crowd. I appreciate the consideration.

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  58. I read this line: "I swear on a million bibles that that's how it all went down." as "I swear on a million babies..." I was like, whoa.

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  59. This is brilliant, mainly because it validates how I feel about concerts, in that I share the same annoyed view-point. Also, at the most recent show I attended, (Beirut in Boston)the opening act was absolutely horrible. My boyfriend went to the bathroom, and I pulled out my phone to check my email for some important information my mom was supposed to send me, and this douchenozzle beside me, standing there with his shank girlfriend draped across him like a bad scarf (why do couples act like this at concerts?) says, loudly, "Who checks their email at a concert, pfft." I let it go, but later, after the opening act finally ended, he says, again loudly, "Maybe I should check my phone right now!" I went off on a personal tirade to my uncomfortable boyfriend, we got in a tiff, and my night was sufficiently ruined. Damn hipsters...

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  60. President Beyoncé! I'm done. Brilliant.

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  61. Someone had to say it. Live music is a pain in the ass. As a fellow Portlander, I can definitely empathize on feeling systematically responsible for attending live concerts. Fuck all.

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  63. This is the music I imagined playing as you held up the Smash Mouth cassingle.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCz_kNFludA

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  64. Not sure if someone has already made this comment, but you may have in fact encountered an emo creature! http://emoboy.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/black-emo-boy-hair-7.jpg
    They tend to have potato-shaped girlfriends and ridiculous haircuts. Also, moshing is still rampant!

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  65. Amazing your post, is very funny

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  66. I had the strangest sense of deja vu, reading this.
    I thought I had read something so similar of yours before.
    I laughed just as hard at the other one. I think.
    Deja vu.

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  67. Cassingles! Really? I was just thinking about those the other day. Really I was just wondering if they still had any value. Now I know!!!

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  68. Muy Hipster http://invertedtriangl3.com

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