Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Screamo and the American Suburbs

photo by Nathan Abels

Brad Troemel recently wrote this excellent blog post about the genre of music most often referred to as "screamo" (screaming + emo -emotion) and how this particular genre has originated and thrives entirely in the suburbs of the American landscape. It's a well written discussion of the music, lyrics, and some of the reasoning for its existence. Troemel writes, "The true reason for this self-pitying, emotionally introspective type of music is boredom. The uniformity of scenery, lack of youth venues (beyond sports), and cultural stagnancy of the suburbs make for a confined existence." He contines by saying, "The solution to boredom for this generation of musicians was twofold: 1. to over exaggerate existing relationship dramas to the point of absurdity or 2. to create new, unfounded social dramas as a kind of self destruction to perpetuate the meaning of one's own existence- sort of like slapping yourself in the face to stay awake."

Having experienced a small corner of the hard-core/screamo scene in the 1990s, Troemel's writing resonated with me. I remember the frequent weekend rock shows in youth-group centers, basements, and one of our favorite venues - the "back door" (the back room of a tattoo parlor in Fort Wayne). Each show with it's own tormented/heartbroken singer, ironic t-shirts, tattooed sleves, and asymmetrical hair. How suburban.

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