Monday, March 30, 2009
Rant: When Indie Goes Mainstream
When it comes to Kings of Leon, I was an early bloomer. I have been listening to and loving them since high school. I started out with Youth and Young Manhood, moved on to Aha Shake Heartbreak, and even got my hands on an advanced copy of Because of the Times (thanks, WERW). Somewhere along the way, a funny thing happened to those Tennessee raised Followill brothers (and cousin). They gained popularity and entered “the mainstream”.
They had already achieved super stardom overseas and I came to terms with that. I would hear them on the radio every now and then but the stations were obscure so I chalked it up to that. Liv Tyler said she loved them in a magazine interview. That was okay too because Liv Tyler is pretty hip, don’t you think? Because of the Times received critical acclaim (for the most part) and then Only By The Night posters began appearing on every construction site in New York City, and suddenly Kings of Leon were selling out Madison Square Garden. That was when I knew; my little indie band was no longer. They had crossed over.
From there it only got worse. The boys secured three Grammies and the celebrity namedropping began. Really, it was only a matter of time. Chelsea Handler of E’s pop-culture comedic jaunt “Chelsea Lately” mentioned that she had been “hanging out” with them. On a radio interview, Miley Cyrus took a breather from bashing Radiohead to talk about the crazy rumor she heard that Kings of Leon are preacher's sons! Omg, no way!? I am attempting to be happy for them and embrace their more commercial tunes but it has been very trying, indeed.
This brings me to the question at hand; why do we hate it so much when our favorite bands make it big? Maybe Mrs. Eisen failed to teach me that, “sharing is caring,” in kindergarten or something. Shouldn’t I be happy that a band that I like is finally getting the recognition that they’ve worked so hard for? Along with their newfound success I gain bragging rights but I lose a little piece of my identity. When a new fan is telling me how much they love the song, “Sex on Fire,” I can casually say, “Oh, Kings of Leon? I’ve been listening to them for years.” Yet, if a person asks me what my favorite bands are and I say Kings of Leon, it no longer reflects my music preferences in an accurate light. It might lead people to believe that I like other bands like them who can sell out MSG, which is not usually true.
In moments like these, I feel the only remedy is to find new little bands to fill the void. And so, I’d like to introduce you to Cage the Elephant. Hailing from Bowling Green, Kentucky, these boys bring the rock and the southern twang. They also have a solid English fanbase and their single “Ain’t No Rest For the Wicked” reached number 32 on the UK Singles Chart, not to mention they grew up on a Christian commune. Sound familiar? The band is comprised of Matt Shultz (vocals) and his brother Brad on guitar, along with their friends Jared Champion and Danielle Tichenor. Lincoln Parish later asked to join via email and his request was granted. While their sound lacks versatility, it so catchy that it just about makes up for it. They are a little less indie and a bit more rock n’ roll than Kings of Leon but a good substitute nonetheless.