When I was in high school, I was what one might call a “scene kid”. There are many kinds of scene kids, so to be clear I wasn’t a neon and zebra print and dinosaur scene kid, I was an extra skinny jeans and band shirts every day scene kid. A studded belt and hair dye scene kid. An Anberlin and As I Lay Dying scene kid.
I used the term “scene kid” the other day while out with a friend and apparently they went to high school in a magical land where that term didn’t exist. So in case you, sweet reader, lucked out and didn’t have a myspace (aw, myspace) friend list full to the brim of hXc scene girls, let me explain to the best of my ability. Honestly, I don’t even know if “scene kids” exist anymore. If they do, I have no idea what their deal is. But the 2005-2007 scene kid… that’s another story.
The 2007 scene kid was all about the music: screamo, hXc (that’s “hardcore” for all of you over the age of 28), a little bit of drunkenly slurred love songs accompanied by only an acoustic guitar (I’m looking at you, Bright Eyes)… etc. This was made very obvious by all the band shirts. ALL OF THE BAND SHIRTS. LITERALLY BAND SHIRTS ALL OF THE TIME. Band shirts and skinny jeans. And converse. But dirty converse, not nasty new ones with really white laces. No one would believe you spent all weekend in a mosh pit if your converse were that white. And don’t forget the studded belt. But the thick one from Hot Topic, not the thin one from Pac Sun. Of course, the 2007 scene kid would pretend they didn’t shop at Hot Topic because that was too commonplace, but don’t buy that nonsense for a moment. That black Underoath shirt with the pink X that every single attendee at any given local show was wearing? Yeah, I bought that shirt at Hot Topic so I call bologna on that “no shopping at Hot Topic” claim. It’s true, however, that shirts actually bought at shows gave you 17 extra scene points. Those were usually a design that Hot Topic didn’t carry, so winner winner.
Every Friday night — it was the most fascinating thing — FLOCKS of scrawny 17 year olds would gather together in a circle with their arms crossed and looking bored at YMCA’s and churches and a myriad of other buildings across town who for some reason trusted 60 teenagers to not destroy the place. For these, dear reader, were the local shows, and they were the scene.
There were some really talented musicians at these shows, but the shows weren’t really about the bands. They were about being seen at the scene. They were where you went to showcase your new hair color. Black with purple ombre? Zomg, so radd. They were where you wore your coolest band shirts — Story of the Year was okay at school, but you gotta pull out the Norma Jean threads when you’re heading to the Elk Lodge to stand next to people you friended on myspace but never spoke to in real life.
Ladies and gentleman, the scene kid.
I spent most of my high school rotating band shirts and attending local shows and even though it’s incredibly laughable to me now, I loved every moment of it. I loved the friends I awkwardly stood next to at those shows and I love that some of the friends I went to watch are still making music. And I still love Sufjan Stevens because some things from high school never change. But I also love that I am in no way, shape, or form a scene kid any longer (and not just because I have to pay taxes now so being called a “kid” seems a little nonsensical).
HERE’S HOW I KNOW I AM NO LONGER A “SCENE KID”:
1. THEN: When I’d go see Maylene and the Sons of Disastor or The Chariot or Showbread on tour I always had to be as close to the front as possible, even if that meant standing in line several hours. And I had to buy a shirt. And it HAD to be signed. NOW: First, I only go to a show if I really really enjoy the band. The concept of shows in general is no longer fun to me, but if I’m really into the music, I’ll go. But now I arrive right before the performances start. Wait in line? Never. I stand in the back so that I have elbow room – being bumped by strangers is no longer part of the fun. If possible, I’ll go sit in a balcony. I leave as soon as the show is over – heck, once I even left during the encore because I wanted to beat traffic.
2. THEN: Skinny jeans weren’t skinny enough. I would literally sew all of my already skinny jeans to make them even skinner. Pretty simple, just turn them inside out and sew along the seam. One time I was walking to lunch in 11th grade and a girl I barely knew came up to me and, without saying hi or anything before hand, said “HOW DO YOU GET INTO YOUR PANTS?!”. Skinny. NOW: I hate jeans. I think they’re unforgiving and they just don’t cover up my love handles NEARLY as well as I would like them to. My favorite kind of pants are those higher waisted mom jeans. And I’m not sorry about it. I praise the Lord every day that I have a job that allows me to wear yoga pants Monday – Friday.
3. THEN: Even if I was uncomfortable I would wear my scenester uniform. An outdoor music festival in Florida? In August? Sure, let me get my black Chariot shirt and pac sun jeans real quick. I passed out from heat exhaustion and dehydration once at one of these shows and I cut my head pretty badly on cement. Meaning the only time in my life I went to the ER was because I passed out at a show from being too scene. NOW: I tend to dress like a librarian. And I love it. Cardigans and petite wrist watches and brooches. This past July I went to an Anamanaguchi show (CAN YOU EVEN PICTURE ME AT AN 8BIT BAND SHOW?) (Though, I was about to move and wanted to hang out with my people while I had the chance) (and it was actually a pretty fun dance party, so.) and wasn’t the least bit embarrassed to be wearing sneakers with shorts with my camelback water bottle in hand. True, the 14 year old kids that were there and dressed very “cool” looked at me like I was a mom, but I can assure you I was more comfortable temperature-wise than anyone at that show.
4. THEN: Like every other scene kid, the front seat of my car always held my giant black CD binder full to the brim of all the music I was supposed to be listening to. Er, I mean, loved on my own accord. I couldn’t drive to school without blasting my music. I think I was under the impression that the car wouldn’t go unless my music was up impossibly loud. NOW: I genuinely detest loud things. Loud things in general — loud music, loud stores, loud people. If I’m listening to music when driving, it’s slightly under medium loudness. I can’t be all caught up in singing about heartbreak with Jessie Lacey of Brand New so much that I don’t pay attention to what’s around me. If I get into an accident, I have to pay for it. I am no longer 16. I have to pay for repairs and insurance and real life things.
5. THEN: The fact of the matter is, I didn’t even enjoy some of the music that I listened to in my “scene phase”. I don’t think I ever boldly pretended to like some bands that I didn’t, but I never talked much about the fact that most of the time The Devil Wears Prada just gave me a headache. I wasn’t a screamo kid. But I was okay with people thinking I was. Because when you’re in high school, er — because when you’re a human being — you care about what people think. And it makes no sense. NOW: I make no apologies for having Lana Del Rey on the same playlist as The Avett Brothers. And I don’t care if Mumford and Sons is mainstream or whatever it is I’m told they are.
I’m not sure what exactly I am these days, but I know with certainty that it isn’t a scene kid. But that’s what high school is for. It’s when you don’t know who you are. It’s a time for finding your niche and having really had hair cuts.