Howler and the hometown hate debate

Jordan Gatesmith shares his true feelings on the music scene

Then there's the dreaded "Picked to Click curse," the great ruse that frequents many of these conversations. The theory goes that the local media hypes up new bands before they've properly developed, and then ignores them when the next flavor of the month comes along. That's not a trend that's exclusive to the Twin Cities. In fact, it runs rampant in contemporary music journalism; just ask Tapes 'n Tapes how capricious the blogosphere-at-large can be. As unfortunate as it may be, the "curse" is just a microcosm of the challenges any band faces.

But all of this brings us back to Gatesmith's original point about the lack of a modern-day Prince or a Hüsker Dü to call our own. He reiterated that point this morning when he said, "I think there's been a lot of critics that have come out of that scene, right after the Replacements, they've kind of hung around. And I think they've all banded together over the last 10 or 20 years, and I feel like now, it's kind of time to make a little bit more room for the younger generation."

That's a good point, but let's go one step further with this: Simply put, what's the point of having a local music scene? Is the idea to foster a local community of artists and entertainment, something we might romantically call "culture"? Or is it merely to be a stepping stone, to produce bands that will go on to bigger and better things elsewhere? Ideally, of course, it would be a combination of the two, but let us not forget that guys like Prince and Bob Dylan never showed any interest in keeping all operations in their home state, no matter how we cling to them. (Meanwhile, Craig Finn gets to have it both ways. Bastard!) So maybe that's not ideal either.

Howler's Jordan Gatesmith, just stretching his fingers
B FRESH Photography
Howler's Jordan Gatesmith, just stretching his fingers

More problematic is that, when we set ourselves those kinds of expectations, we're bound to be disappointed. Saying that there's been "this giant lull period of, like, 30 years" completely ignores, among other things, the great punk music of the '90s—the sort of music that helps make for a thriving and truly local scene. Think of it this way: How many other cities in North America can claim to have had several true "national" bands break out in the past 10 years? What if you're looking for bands that people watching the Grammys will recognize, rather than just Pitchfork readers? It's a small, almost non-existent pool.

Here's an idea: Let's stop idol-worshiping bands like Hüsker Dü, the Replacements, and, yes, Prince. Each were great artists, and in all likelihood the most important ones to come out of these cities—especially when viewed from a broader perspective. We should appreciate them and be proud of them. But living forever in their shadows is unhealthy. If that's all there is for us to do, then we might as well give up.

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