By Sarah Cavin
For a little while now I have been asking myself this question: why is this music so important to us? It seems to be a complicated question to answer, but maybe it's not quite as difficult as I thought.
The other night I was in my room, shuffling through various playlists after a particularly rough day, when I heard the opening chords of "Sugar We're Going Down" start strumming in my ears, and I realized something: I realized that those chords felt more like home to me than the room I'd grown up in or the bed in which I'd slept for 18 years. And I think that's why this music means so much to us. It never fails to make us feel. To make us feel hopeful or safe, make us feel angry or motivated, make us feel better. I can put the headphones in and finally be able to breathe again. And that's so important.
I read an article a while ago, directed towards the people in this scene, and it said something that really resonated with me. It said that, "no one loves music as much as the people who are reading this love music.” And it's true. That's the reason why we sit here and spend our time reading articles on websites like this one. That's the reason why we spend an inordinate amount of money to go see bands that no one has ever heard of in dumpy little venues and bars. That's the reason why we don't mind losing our hearing if it's for this cause. We honestly care so much.
A while ago, Spotify conducted this study to try and figure out which fans were most devoted to their genre. The results surprised me at the time, but now, I think I understand. They found that globally, metal music fans were by far the most dedicated (and in the United States, emo, metal, and punk ranked in slots 4, 5, and 6, respectively), and to be honest, that makes a lot of sense. It takes a certain type of person to fall into and stay in the scene that we call our own, and a lot of the time, once you're in, you've got a bit of a lengthy sentence to carry out. But we don't really mind. Be it emo, punk, hardcore, metal, screamo, or lo-fi post-indie garage grunge slam dance music, this music means more to us than we could probably ever describe.
I'm actually relatively new to this corner of the music world. I didn't cut my teeth on Nirvana or Bad Religion. I hadn't even listened to a Black Flag song until last week. But I grew up during an interesting time for pop music: when I was 9 years old - about the time that I really started paying attention to pop culture or anything even remotely music-related - it was 2006, an era that I've heard jokingly dubbed the Emo Renaissance. It was a time when you could hear Fall Out Boy or My Chemical Romance, blink-182 or Jimmy Eat World, at every turn on the radio. I remember that the first song I ever downloaded onto my Walkman was "20 Dollar Nose Bleed" off of Fall Out Boy's Folie À Deux in 2008. But pretty soon, pop culture and pop music moved on, I moved on with it, and I all but forgot about Fall Out Boy and Green Day and the like until many years later. When I began high school, I somehow rediscovered Fall Out Boy by recommendation from someone I followed on social media, who really never could shut up about them. I finally gave them another listen, this time checking out Take This To Your Grave, which I had previously never even heard of. I don't even think I really liked that album at first listen (which is funny because it even says in one song, "The songs you grow to like never stick at first.") but it was intriguing enough that the experience opened the floodgates for the music to which I would soon devote all of my listening.
Now it's been three years since I first spun TTTYG as a little freshman in high school, and as I'm entering my senior year, I rely on this music, on this community, more than anything I have before. I feel like I owe so much. This music and the people involved have helped me to realize and understand my identities as a member of the LGBT+ community; they've helped me to manage my mental illness, breathe, sleep, get out of bed in the morning, chase what I want, and determine what the truth is for me. I honestly have no idea how that all happened, but I'm so grateful that it did, and I know that it's facts like these that make this music so important to us.
I hear people saying all the time how the music has always been here for us, it's never left us alone. And the community, the people involved, haven't either. As I move into a new time period in my life, applying for and entering college, moving away from home, becoming an adult, and trying to find my place in the world, I know that I will rely on that more than ever.
And I know that I won't be let down.
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