I don’t want to be that old man that says things like that. I want to believe in my heart that teenagers will always have potential to do great things and posses a pure lust for creativity and awesomeness. But after last night I cannot deny that this current crop of teens is as worthless as a sackful of pennies. It isn’t unanimously true across the board… I know a handful of nineteen-year-olds that know what’s up, but the vast majority of these “Y Generation” kids are completely useless for anything more than human shields.
It’s not entirely their fault. The odds were stacked against them from the start. Anyone born in the 1990s was dealt a shitty hand. By the time they were old enough to perceive the world around them our culture had already been bankrupted and spent. By 1995 mainstream culture had gotten so homogenized and dumbed-down that anything you saw on TV or heard on the radio was insulting to anyone who knew better. With the exception of a very small few exceptions that sad reality has remained unwaveringly true for almost 15 years. These kids were children in the 1990s when it was all the rage for all the new-yuppie parents to pump their kids full of Ritalin at the first sign of independent thought. They were deprived of emotion and chemically forced into neat little rows. They were bred and nurtured to be sheep.
By the time even the oldest of them were in high school the post 9-11 neo-con mentality was in full swing. George W. Bush was acting like King of the World and pushing all his shitty agendas through a spineless congress that bowed to his every whim, no matter how ludicrous or how blatantly wrong. Most of these kids have heard of Kurt Cobain, the very last legitimate rock star, but few of them ever listened to Nirvana. They were left alone in a wasteland with no frame of reference for anything artistically legitimate the whole time being endlessly bombarded by a relentless onslaught of crap shoved down their throats. They were born with a credit card glued to one hand and a cellphone glued to the other. And without any sort of accessible spokesperson with any inkling of credibility or legitimacy they never had a chance.
But it’s still no excuse. To grand leniency and sympathy to fools is to do a disservice to anyone that has enough sense to rise above their disadvantages. It was Friedrich Neitzsche who wrote that charity does more damage to the race than genocide. That may sound harsh, but when you look at what’s happening to our culture and the world at large it is a cold and difficult truth to turn a blind eye to. Any human being that does not posses the ability to smell a rat, or sniff out a shyster is a rube and a sucker and deserves the fate they carve out for themselves. But sadly their loss is ours as well because by handing their money and support to those that would do them harm they grant power to the dark forces of greed and short-sighted selfishness. As a result we, as a people, are forced to wallow in the dismal aftermath of their bad taste and ignorance and there is endless grotesque evidence of it everywhere you look.
I wanted to believe in my heart that if the kids are shown something truly good and pure that they would have the sense to recognize it and embrace it; that it would act as a beacon of light in the darkness and help lead them on the path of shedding their worthless and shallow ideologies in favor of substance and fulfillment. The kids let me down almost unanimously last night when I went to see the Hard Way (http://www.myspace.com/thehardwayrocks) at the Midnight Sun; one of the only underage venues in all of Olympia.
The Hard Way is a four piece rock outfit with influences deeply rooted in tight rock and worthwhile and engaging pop. They are an extraordinarily tight band with high energy and something to say that should be listened to. But their excellent performance of pertinent songs seemed to fall on the deaf ears and blind eyes of a rag-tag ensemble of mall rats and 12th generation “punk rockers” who don’t seem to know the first thing about the ethos of they styles they attempt, and fail, to flaunt.
The band that performed immediately before the Hard Way was a soft rock emo Christian band that took 45 minutes to set up and sounded like all the worst aspects of Live, Creed, and the Counting Crows rolled into a ball of shit before being watered down. That band, whose name I never bothered to find out, played to a full room of sheepishly nodding heads and semi-forced smiles. The Hard Way took the stage immediately after, but the bulk of the crowd didn’t have the patience to wait the 10 minutes it took the Hard Way to set up. When the Hard Way began their set the bulk of the crowd was made up of our crew who came down specifically to see them. The remainder of the 2/3 empty room seemed unimpressed by their excellent sound, their high energy, and their virtuoso-like musical ability. They idly played with their cellphones and slowly filtered out of the room while the Hard Way put on one of the best performances I’ve seen in Olympia since Estradasphere played to a similarly empty room at the China Clipper 2 long years ago. The only people in the crowd younger than 25 that seemed to recognize the Hard Way’s worth were members of Off Shore Radio (http://www.myspace.com/offshoreradioband), the band that set the show up.
The Hard Way, being the consummate professionals that they are, didn’t let it get to them. They rocked as hard and as well as if they were playing to 50,000 screaming fans at a sold-out show at the Hollywood Bowl, but I knew better. I know how it feels to play to an ungrateful crowd. I know how it feels to put on a truly great performance only to watch the crowd yawn and be disinterested and then later throw their love at a regurgitated 5th wave stale homogenized version of something that was never good in the first place. I know that, even though they’ll never let on, that it got to them. I know how discouraging it is to know that you gave your all for all the right reasons and that it was squandered and ignored by fools and imbeciles who would rather give their money and their love to a band whose sole purpose is to sell them McDonalds, Pepsi, and Abercrombie and Fitch. Last night I saw pearls cast before swine and it’s almost enough for me to give up on their entire generation completely.