@ChrisJohnGilson touched on this in his essay Let’s Get Serious, but I wanted to really explore it…
Why is everyone so upset that Arcade Fire wants their concert attendees to dress up?
Who would’ve thought that one little request would inspire such absurd statements from the masses?
The outrage really falls into two categories:
- People are lazy.
- People love to be contrarian.
People are lazy: This is self-explanatory. I have so many examples of concert, theater, and opera attendees who are wearing the same thing they’d wear to the grocery store. If you’re spending a fair amount of money to attend a cultural event, put a little pep in your step! Ladies – throw on a skirt or a nice pair of pants. Leave the jeggings and sweatpants tucked into Uggs at home. Guys – would it kill you to wear a pair of khakis and throw on a tie? It really makes me want to vomit when I think about how many people I’ve seen wear jeans to the Metropolitan Opera. Chris and I have been criticized on more than one occasion over the fact that we spend a lot of money on clothes. I’ll let you in on a secret – we don’t. Instead of buying a bunch of cheaply made clothes that we have to replace every few months, we invest in well-made pieces (typically from J. Crew) and wear them for years. It doesn’t take a lot of effort, or money for that matter, to look presentable. In a world where so much emphasis is placed on looks, why are so many people apathetic towards the way the look in public? It’s laziness. Because they don’t want to put that extra 10 minutes into their routine to iron a shirt.
Enough about people in general, let’s get back to the Arcade Fire. The easiest way to qualify the request is this: Imagine you have a good friend. The kind of friend that you’ve kept in close touch with throughout the years, and has shared a lot of important life moments with you. This friend is celebrating a milestone birthday, and wants to have her birthday party at a pretty swanky restaurant. This means you’d have to dress a little fancy. You’ll probably have to spend some decent money. Again, this is one of your closest friends who has probably sat through some pretty annoying events of yours. Are you not going to go just because you have to put in a little extra effort? Hell no! You’re going to slap on that dress and those heels and march out the door with your happy face on because you’re getting to spend time with your friend.
This is exactly what it’s like with the Arcade Fire. If you like the band as much as I do, you’re going to spend the money on your tickets, throw on some thrifted fancy shit, and enjoy the hell out of what is probably going to be an amazing show. You may not want to put in the effort to get ready for “just a concert”, but why not?
This leads me to my next point.
People love to be contrarian: There’s such an uproar over the Arcade Fire’s request, and most of it is coming from people WHO DON’T EVEN LIKE THE BAND!
Although I’ve moved away, I still follow my favorite Chicago radio station on Facebook. When tickets for Arcade Fire’s United Center show went on sale, 93XRT posted a status about the dress code request. Out of the dozens of people who commented on it, only 6 (including myself) had anything positive to say. Most people didn’t even comment about the request, but instead took the opportunity to complain about:
- How shitty they think the band is, ie “hipster garbage”, “pretentious”, “pompous a-holes” (that person went on to complain about how bad the band’s lyrics are…apparently he has never listened to the band), “why won’t XRT talk about better bands?” “terrible band, who even cares?” “nope”.
- The venue. “Oh it’s at the United Center? I’ll pass.” “The UC, another reason not to go” “They’re not good enough for an arena tour” (I suppose that also supports point #1).
- Ticket prices. I’ve been to so many concerts in the past year with Chris, that we’re starting to lose count. To be honest, these ticket prices are on the lower end. Someone said, “They can pay me $90 to dress up”.
My comment was this:
“It’s not like you’re going to get turned away for not dressing up. Don’t like the band? Don’t go. Find something else to bitch about.”
And I stand by it. How absurd is it that someone has to take time out of their life to comment on a radio station’s post about a band with clear merit’s request that people dress up a bit for their show? It’s like Chris said – LCD Soundsystem asked people to wear black or white to their last show at MSG. Someone else pointed out that no one complained when Prince asked people to wear purple to his concerts. You won’t be turned away if you don’t dress up. It’s a request.
My conclusion is just that people need a reason to complain. These are the same people who are so excited about the new Mumford & Sons song that sounds like every other Mumford & Sons song. Because their favorite, bullshit album isn’t being called “genius”, they’ll motherfuck a band who is still producing interesting material. Everyone is miserable about something these days, but I’ll save that for another time.
When it comes to trivial things like this: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
I, for one, purchased two tickets to the Bridgeport, CT show. Chris and I will be as dressed up as we can be. I pity anyone who is missing out because they didn’t want to work a little harder than sweatpants.
What do you think of when you hear “the Midwest”? Large, flat states? Fat, white people? Cornfields? The Second City?
I think of home.
I grew up in a small town in Northwest Indiana, a mere 38 miles from downtown Chicago. All the suburban charm - Pleasantville, if you will.
Though I grew up in Lake County, where we proudly attempt to annex ourselves to Illinois every few years, it’s still Indiana. We are one of the few counties in the state that are on Central Time. [I remember being at school in West Lafayette (Eastern Time Zone) and racing the 77 miles home to see if I could get there before the time I left.] We are so close to Chicago that it never gets truly dark at night – the lights of the city leave an orange glow in the clouds. It’s still the Midwest.
In a bout of rebellion, I moved with my ex to New Haven, CT when I was 21. He was beginning graduate school at Yale, and I was so depressed that I thought I was truly in love.
Nothing could have prepared me for the culture shock.
I came from a place where people on the street make eye contact and say hello, or at least smile. Here, people will knock you over as you pass and not think twice. People are colder here, and you’re kept at arm’s length. I hardly knew anyone outside of the Drama School students that looked at me as though I were an outsider – which I was. I got a job as a receptionist. It was a position where my Midwestern friendliness came in handy. I made friends. Great friends. Friends that I saw a few weeks ago for the first time in years, and it was as though no time had passed.
When I left that job, I got a job at the Yale Bookstore. It was perfect when I started. I didn’t know anyone who read more than me. I excelled. I made more friends. I ended one relationship, started another, then ended that one, then started another.
And it truly wasn’t until that last relationship (my current relationship) that New Haven, and New England in general, grew on me. Something clicked. Maybe it was because I had 5 years under my belt. Maybe it was because my neighborhood was cleaning up. Maybe it was because my boyfriend grew up here and we got to experience all the city had to offer together, and he was my guide. Slowly but surely, I realized that I may have come from the Midwest, but it is not who I am.
Here are a few reasons why:
- I’m half Afghan, which means I automatically don’t fit in with the typical citizen of Northwest Indiana (see: white). It’s something I’m proud of, but not something I would shout from the rooftops before.
- I’m an atheist. Anyone who has been to the Midwest knows that I’m thoroughly outnumbered.
- I’m incredibly Liberal. I’m waaaaaaaaay out there on the Left edge. Look up a political map of Indiana. See that solo Blue County in the far northwest corner? That’s where I’m from – but even a blue county in Indiana is more like…pink?
Numbers 2 and 3 go hand in hand, really. I took my boyfriend home with me in June. We drove, and it was the farthest west he had been other than a childhood trip to California. The closer we got to Crown Point, the more shock and horror I could see on his face. Aside from all the farms, there is every church ever, and our personal favorites: a billboard of sad looking women with the slogan “We regret our abortions” and the giant 12 foot cross on the side of the road with ABORTED and BABIES on the arms.
I live in Connecticut. One of the most liberal states in the country. We are psyched about marriage equality. Medical marijuana is legal, and marijuana in general is decriminalized. There are people of nearly every race within the city of New Haven. We are near Yale professors who were arrested during the Civil Rights Movement for speaking out against segregation. I am an hour from New York City and two hour from Boston. I live near the ocean. I live near mountains. Oh, and I’ve become a New Haven-style pizza convert…sorry, deep dish, you don’t have shit on Modern.
To be honest, I never felt like I belonged in the Midwest. I always felt as though I was destined for more. More than small town living. It’s hard sometimes, living so far away. I’ve missed out on a lot of friend and family time. I’m going to miss out on a close friend’s wedding in a month because I can’t afford to make the trip. But each time I go back, I know I’ve made the right decision by staying here.
While I still love Chicago, I am trying to make the move to New York. I will probably never live in the Midwest again, and that is something my family still hasn’t accepted. It’s not that I’m ashamed of where I grew up, but in a way I feel almost sorry for the people who never left there. How do they know if that’s where they truly belong? It wasn’t until I moved away from everything familiar that I figured myself out.
All I know is that New England – not the Midwest – is my home. It’s the only place I feel free to be me.
chrisjohngilson with our friends Chris and Lily. Night fishing in the Long Island Sound. One of the highlights of my summer.
A Kickstarter and a Giveaway.
Hello internet, I just launched a modest Kickstarter for my next Yellow Zine. Rewards include original drawings, a secret nanozine about fountains, those Vogue bags that aren’t for sale, $1 PDFs, discount NPR calendars (with my awwwardwinnums illustration) and so forth.
Now. I pronounce this post one of these annoying giveaways that you love so much:
Reblog to win one of these TEN fabulous prizes:
6X NPR Calendar.
3X Picnic Ruined, signed.
1X NPR calendar, Picnic Ruined and an original drawing.
Thanks and apologies!
This is an open call for Poetry Submissions. Anyone can submit as long as they agree to the following:
- It is an original poem. No translations.
- It cannot be meaningless drivel. If the words don’t make any sense, there better be a damn good reason.
- Better yet, read the mantra of this whole…
Hey! Submit your poetry!