If you’ve been to a large rock concert, then you know the scene. People up on their feet, clapping together to the rhythm. The singer tells the audience to scream, and they do. Then s/he says “you gotta do better than that!” and the audience screams louder.
We create communities around common grounds, and music is a powerful community maker. The difference between politics and music is that with music people know and expect diversity and differing personal opinions. So being a fan of Bruce Springsteen doesn’t exclude you from also being a fan of Yo-Yo Ma.
When artists express certain values and persona, audience that responds to that creates an audience community. You can expect a certain vibe from the crowd at concerts. Recently I’ve gone out to see Toad the Wet Sprocket, SHEL and In Flames, and they are all very different crowds. I felt fairly at home with the former two, less so at the last one though it’s not difficult to spot a fellow metalhead who chooses not to express their metal-ness in outward appearance (as in, tame looking, no Metallica t-shirt, no tattoo and piercings everywhere. I’m not saying that as a judgment, just an observation of what the “metal” look is like).
But bands like U2 and Cloud Cult are more overt with their values, and that has a strong impact on their fandom. I can tell you that I’d feel safe in a Cloud Cult crowd. I can count on most of them to be conscientious and caring. Your Favorite Enemies is another act with fanatically loyal fans all over the world. I’m not as big a fan of YFE as I am of Cloud Cult but I admire both of them greatly.
My dream is to be like Cloud Cult and YFE. My story is that rock n roll is my way of saying “I’m with you” to someone who feels inner pain. And I say that by writing extended rock songs that zigs and zags with twists and surprises, because that’s how life is to me. And I want this community to be a safe place where we let our guards down and talk about things that really matter.
It’s a lofty dream, but one can still dream, right? Actually it matters less, the size of the audience. If I was to play a house concert to a group of 20 people who are so into my music that they’d sing along to every word, I’d be ecstatic. The energy of that audience will charge me and lift me up to stratosphere.
I just love that community-building aspect of music. I am very grateful that I happen to be a musician. Not knocking any other kinds of art, but if you ask me music is definitely the best.