Pop goes the culture: It’s the end of the scene as we know it, and I feel fine

Indie rock as we have come to know and love it-in all its dance-pop glitz and DIY glamour-stands at a crossroads.

Having outgrown its garage-core roots and officially busting the britches of its form-fitting Diesel jeans, the music, and the close-knit community of thrift store-clad kids it has assembled, is morphing right now, as you read.

And you know what? That’s not such a bad thing.

Fact: Modest Mouse sold near 1 million copies of its latest, Grammy-nominated Good News For People Who Love Bad News-the most for any indie band, ever. The Killers are still in heavy rotation on MTV (despite the most “Moulin Rouge”-esque mangling of a music video in years) and bands ranging anywhere from Bright Eyes to Death Cab for Cutie are becoming staples of popular consciousness.

Teenage listeners, having grown tired of the same old black-on-black emo-screamo crap they’ve been sold for years are looking for new digs, and their ears are tuning into the indie frequency. Major record labels, aware of their demographic’s dissatisfaction, are looking for new faces to exploit-and boy-oh-boy, do those indie kids have pretty faces.

Simply put, your favorite bands are getting bigger, there’s nothing you can do about it and you’re getting nervous.

You shouldn’t be, though-musical progression is a natural tendency of pop culture.

This means that you need to bid a bittersweet farewell to the old scene as it was and embrace the new scene as it comes.

More poignantly, it means that you, beloved indie kid, are going to have to alter your definitions of what it means to be truly ‘indie.’

You need to recognize that the term ‘indie rock,’ as it is commonly used today, refers more to a style of music-the whole Ben-Gibbard-meets-Sonic-Youth-meets-The-Pixies thing-than to the mentality that bred it.

Indie mentalities are resilient-they adapt to the circumstances around them. They are invariably low-fi, DYI and intimate. These things don’t change. Yes, your bands are getting bigger; no, that does not mean ‘indie rock’ dies. Indie rock as a movement geared toward creating artistic, intelligent and unusual music is like a cockroach or Cher: It’s here to stay, no mater what bombs are dropped.

What you need to keep in mind are the reasons why ‘indie rock’ was born in the first place. Indie rock, as a countercultural movement, was born out of a dissatisfaction with the mainstream-kids didn’t like what they heard when they turned on the radio, so they made their own noise.

So, now that the initially anti-radio music is getting mainstream airplay, the same sort of progression is likely to occur: When indie rock goes POP (literally and figuratively), the indie tendency toward popular dissatisfaction will breed a new indie rock, a new underground.

What will this new scene look and sound like? Who knows. It might be a wispy neo-folk uprising of the humanitarian and ultra-personal (a l Joanna Newsom, Devandra Barnhardt, Iron & Wine and their ilk) or it might be a whiskey-fueled rage into the retro (a l Nic Armstrong and The Thieves, Kings of Leon, The Black Keys et. al). Either way, you can rest assured that the local reliability, the personally relevant appeal will still be riding shotgun.

Which brings us back to you, indie kid. There are two routes you can travel at this point. You can A) Play the oh-so-tired sell-out card and start hating all the bands you loved simply because they’ve gotten big, forgetting all the reasons you loved them in the first place, or you can (preferably) B) Get over yourself and your pretension by acting like a mature listener and acknowledging the inevitability (and cultural benefit) of this process.

Embrace the bomb and it can’t blow you up. Like it or not, Bob Dylan was right once again: The times, they are a changin’, and you can either adapt or be left behind.

Choose the former and you’ll have years of uncluttered listening to look forward to. Choose the latter and you’ll always have the good ol’ days of 2003 to look back on fondly. Hell, someone has to buy that sad Now That’s What I Call Music! Vol. 39873, right?

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