On Saturdays my dad and I used to get up early to go to the dump. We would grab the week’s trash, throw it in the back of my dad’s red Ford truck and head out. The dump was on the exact other side of the town from where we lived, so it generally took most of the morning to do. Add in a stop at Dunkin’ Donuts for my dad to get coffee on both the ride there and the ride back, plus my dad arguing the price of bulky waste and it would be almost lunch by the time the whole thing was done.
What I remember most about these trips besides the free donut I would score for even agreeing to go, is hearing my dad talk about growing up and his love for music. He would brag about seeing The Rolling Stones play in small clubs, and being in the crowd and seeing Led Zeppelin sell out Madison Square Garden. He had story after story about these music icons and witnessing history as it unfolded around him.
My dad’s fondness for music fueled an insatiable urge in me to love and witness music the same way he did. Maybe it was that my dad was a hard guy to read and get love out of, and maybe I thought that if I could love music as much as he did, it might make it easier for me to understand him or vice versa. I’m not exactly sure why, but I remember those rides being the spark that turned into the fire that is my love for music.
As I quit listening to radio rock and immersed myself into punk rock and various other genres of music, I started to rebel against my dad’s taste. I saw the kids at school in Pink Floyd tee shirts and I found them pathetically out of touch with where music was at the time. I was a modernist, and I only wanted what was new and unfolding around me. I thought that all the bands of my generation would trump the old fools of my dad’s generation, and that my era would take the torch and carry it on. I saw myself growing up and feeding my kids the same nostalgic stories my dad fed me about these cool bands I was into. I saw myself handing down back patches to an eager son or daughter who would sit in the side seat of my truck on weekends, eagerly soaking up stories of stage dives and mosh calls the way I once had about stories of smoking weed in the desert at a festival and seeing Black Sabbath.
A little ways down the road I joined bands and met bands I had looked up to and saw myself and all my contemporaries as immortal and pure. We were going to change the world man. Then, after a few years, I started to fade out of all of it. I started to grow out of my rebellion against my fathers era and started rebelling against my own. I lost that kill the father raise the child mentality in music and started re educating myself on rock and roll, country, blues, etc. I started to see these bands I had grown up idolizing breaking up and becoming unknowns. “What is so and so from what’s their name doing these days? Oh wikipedia doesn’t even know? Shit they’re all broke? Wait what band are you talking about?” Spotify allowed me to revisit the graves of all the bands I liked when I was a teenager and the headstones aren’t pretty. As of late, we have seen unprecedented revival tours, but even then, after the original buzz and the first few festivals end, those bands go right back to their lives where they were, maybe with a little extra padding in their pockets for the time being, but people still forget. The pedestal is fragile and fleeting.
There is no new Led Zeppelin in our world and I doubt there ever will be again. I mean this both for anything coming out of the so called "underground" as well as the mainstream. There are too many bands, too many labels, to many genres, and too many basements or festivals to keep careers going that otherwise would have and should have ended. The frontier for music has been found and settled, and much like when the Wild West ended, the experience was boxed up and mass produced on a smaller scale. The Wild West experience was boiled down into Wild West Shows, and yes they’re fun to watch and fulfilling enough, but it’s not the real thing, because the real thing had happened and could never happen again.
It all makes me truly wonder if my kids will be as envious of me as I was of my dad when I tell them I saw Alkaline Trio a dozen times, or that I saw Coheed and Cambria for free in Central Park one time. It just doesn’t seem to have that same special ring to it. It all depends on what way you look at it I guess. At the end of the day, Isn’t seeing people play instruments on a stage the same no matter when it happens? Yes, in essence, and who cares what my hypothetical children of the future think about music, because I believe they will loathe whatever I like eventually in the same way I did to my dad. The key component is legacy. What will this generation pass on in the world of arts and culture to the next generation? It certainly won’t be any of the bands I’m paying to go see. Are Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Fetty Wap enough to impress future dump-run children, or will just the promise of a donut be enough?