Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Off on a Tangent, Part 13 - Vast Swathes of Generalisation

Apropos of absolutely nothing at all, here’s Alexis Petridis in a recent Guardian article talking about a Feist gig:

The audience was heavy on hipsters, presumably lured by Feist's long-standing associations with a succession of achingly trendy cult artists... There was an almost tangible air of come-on-impress-us about the audience, their cynicism perhaps compounded by the ads.

Er, are you quite sure about that, Alexis? I was at the very same gig and, whilst it’s nice to be described as a ‘hipster’ (I think), the audience was the usual Brighton melting pot mix of indie kids, scruffy students, people with silly haircuts/stupid hats and old geezers who had dragged their bored looking other halves along. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that the average audience age that night was well over 30.

At that point, The Reminder had not been released in the UK, so presumably everyone present had no doubt been drawn by the previous album Let It Die and Feist’s powerhouse performances with Broken Social Scene. The gig was also completely sold out. That curious breed ‘the hipster’ (how do you spot a hipster anyway? Do they stand under spotlights dressed in polonecks wearing berets?) was noticeable by its absence.

All of which says to me: if you can’t think of what to write, either a) make it up, or b) blandly generalise.

That said, if you want experience vast open plains of generalisation, pick up Made in Brighton, a series of essays on modern Brighton by Julie Burchill and Daniel Raven (who Julie just happens to be married to). Polemicists seem to thrive on generalisations, as the reality of any situation is just too knotty and complex to really get your knickers in a twist over I reckon.


Robin Kelly said...

I stopped reading his reviews a long time ago, but even when he writes outside of music he makes things up.

He once wrote a short article about UK and US television and there were several major factual mistakes, all which made his argument redundant, all of them easily checkable.

Chip Smith said...

I think it's the bland generalisation that gets me - the Komedia is a tiny venue (200 at a crush), so for anyone to describe the audience as 'hipsters' is just plain daft (perhaps he did a straw poll at the door or something!). I often find that a lot of music writers make things up to make the story seem a lot more exciting that it actually is - I saw Sonic Youth a few years ago, and the support band got a few glasses chucked at them. The way it's been reported since, you'd think it was World War III out there!