It’s 2011. Yes, over a decade since the big Y2K thing that was meant to represent the future. It’s a beautiful year and technology in all directions is doing bigger leaps everyday – Bangalore may even get decent 3G and a rail system 50ft above the ground!
So why is it then, that at almost every pub and restaurant, every new band is doing covers, and our beloved radio station, is completely obsessed with the 60s – 80s? Yes it was an awesome time for music; it was a revolution. But we’ve grown since then. Our lives are different, our pains, our joys, all stem from an understanding of what has passed and from a hope for a less bleak future.
Yet, walk into most any bar, and you’ll hear Mr. Big, Deep Purple, Bob Marley, The Beatles, Dylan, The Stones, and maybe, if they’re adventurous they may encroach on the nineties with some Aerosmith or Chili Peppers. Don’t get me wrong. I do love these bands dearly and am a giant fan of the era, but it is still the past. It’s before our time and therefore not written for us. It talks beautifully of universal things like love and philosophy, but is received more as a story handed down than a representation of where we are. It’s art after all, and art is nothing without context.
So, where is this rant headed? It’s not a stretch to reason that this stuff is played so much because it’s recognizable and people want to hear it. At the same time, big money is putting their weight behind easy-to-digest pop that most everyone hates, but accepts as an inescapable result of commercialism. This means we have a generation of people that seemingly have no one expressing their emotions, being led by a past of hardship that isn’t theirs, ironically often singing about individuality and empowerment: fighting a forgotten war with no opposition.
It’s the adult version of teenage angst. Sadly, you’ll see this spread past just music. It’s a much larger scale problem. It means we don’t actually know what we want; we’re disaffected but don’t really know why. And as a result, support or oppose things like Anna Hazare’s dictatorship proposition without weighing final outcomes. We’re a middle-class who listen to Lennon cry for peace, love and freedom, but will back a totalitarian regime if it’s packaged tidily and pushes the right buttons. We’re not invested in the world around us, because we don’t relate to it directly. It’s not just music. Think of your top 10 painters; your top 10 (non-Hollywood) movies; comic characters, recipes, clothing styles, authors, how many are from the last 5 years?
The last few big concerts I remember hearing about were Cold Player, Foreigner, Bryan Adams, Led Zepplica, Prodigy, Michael Learns to Rock, Lamb of God, the list goes on. It’s not flattering and we happily joke about India being on the ‘retirement tour’. Nobody new comes down because, when they do, nobody turns up – because nobody’s heard of them, because nobody has been sitting comfy in the sixties, unaware that the world is happy now.
We’ve come to grips with the destructive species that we are, and are fighting to save ourselves, not just say there’s a problem. Go out of your way, find music that speaks to you where you are now; you’ll learn about yourself and believe in the universe more. We can hope you’ll be happier, and maybe honk less and smile more.
Note: Prodigy did do Invaders Must Die, which I adore, in 2009. But the publicity, and the big reason people went was Smack My Bitch Up (The Fat of The Land, 1997). Even then, it was far from packed.