Popular culture these days is like a black hole, sucking up all elements of the underground and spitting them back out in a more easy-to-swallow format. It's getting harder and harder to retain true underground status with Urban Outfitters and Hot Topic trying to make a buck off it.
Here in Minneapolis, various factions of underground subcultures fight tirelessly to remain largely ignored. Suburban kids throw on a Leftover Crack shirt, drive 45 minutes into the Cities to a basement show, and cry when someone makes fun of Vice Magazine. Facebook blows up like the old mnVibe boards when the word "rave" is mentioned. Discussing local hip-hop can be like walking through a minefield. Who is the most underground old-school raver? Who is the most punk? Who has the most street cred?
Only you can decide if you are the most underground person in Minneapolis, but Gimme Noise will make it easier by compiling a list of sure signs that you just might qualify for the title.
10. When a band you like gets big, you don't like them anymore.
It is so passé to like something that everybody else likes. Your role in this society is to be the one who likes things when nobody else does. When other people start liking them you can take credit for knowing about them first. Then, passionately reminisce about how they used to be great, but now they've sold out. It's so annoying when something you like becomes trendy, so you experience eternal misery as popular culture greedily sucks the underground dry.
There is a similar rule for underground musicians who feel that gaining mainstream attention for their art somehow negatively impacts what they are trying to do. These people will often remark about how little attention they receive in the media. When they are finally given some kind of public recognition, they will cry about how they have been "ruined" and struggle to fade back into obscurity in order to maintain their underground status.
9. Your entire collection of local music is on cassette.
You have a carefully catalogued collection of cassette tapes. Every tape is bound with handmade artwork. You found half of these tapes in the free bin at Hard Times. Your taste in music is the most underground, and the musicians who create the music that you like want you to go through the work of buying a tape player at Saver's so you can fully appreciate the value of listening to their EP. Just kidding, they really just can't afford to release their music on anything other than cassette.
8. You hang out with Spooky Black, or someone just as underground as him.
Who is Spooky Black? Not only can you answer this question, but you also hang out with him, and other artists who keep their government names secret. You know things about him that nobody else knows. You have a deep understanding of the reasons for his sadness. You and only you have the ability to make Spooky Black smile. He feels comfortable wearing colors when you are around.
7. You went to Midwestern raves in the '90s. Or, you wanted to kill me for writing my "Rules of the Rave" article.
In the early '90s, you drove around with all of your shady friends on the hunt for a rave. You made it out to Further and lost your mind to Aphex Twin, then got invited to Kurt Ecke's 27th birthday party on the farm, where you met Richie Hawtin. If you were lucky, you only managed to spill one or two vials of LSD along the way. You are the most underground, old-school raver. You know what a real rave is and you hate those kids who think a dubstep party at Skyway is actually a rave. No glowsticks allowed. You go to that thing. At that place. The first rule of the rave is never to talk about the rave.
6. You live in a house named after a type of animal or a bodily function.
Your house is the most underground punk house because it has the most repulsive name. Fuck the sunshine rainbow commune shit. Well, keep the shit part. If it has something to do with defecation or with rodents and other small, generally creepy animals, you want people to think immediately of you while they dry heave and cry. Your wallpaper is made out of old show fliers. You can't remember how many roommates you have.
5. Your favorite pastime is talking shit about popular local rap.
You are so sick of listening to people rap about south Minneapolis. You are so tired of listening to people brag for an entire song about absolutely nothing. You don't want to hear another single rap song about a food item. You have actually seen the inside of a ghetto. You know firsthand that "gully" doesn't refer to the movie Fern Gully. You started in the trap, now you rap. You are hood rich, gutter and gorgeous. You are the most underground rapper. In fact, you have never rapped above ground. (For the sake of this argument, we will pretend that Honey is actually above ground.)
4. If it doesn't involved a bike, you don't care.
You stopped riding a fixed gear track bike back in 2009. Those are only for Uptown wanna-bes and S.K. On most afternoons you can be found at the downtown Pizza Luce knocking back beers and exchanging war stories with your courier comrades, all of whom are clad in Trash Messenger Bag gear. Also, you stopped racing in the Stuporbowl a couple of years ago. It's just not fair for you to participate, since you've won it a couple of times already. If you have a tall bike, you get extra points for being gutter punk and in excellent physical shape. If you have an art bike, I am happy for you.
3. When Medusa shut down, you became homeless.
There was nothing more thrilling for you than living at Medusa. Through thick and thin, punk rock, metal, and harsh noise, you thrived. Year after year you weathered the bed bugs and beer spills. You witnessed the unspeakable. You saw every one of your favorite bands play in your living room. Finally, when things took a turn for the worse, you lamented the loss of the punk rock landmark to the slimy grip of drug fiends and underage kids looking to party. Still, you clung on. Then the "for sale" sign went up. Then City Pages wrote about it. You wandered the West Bank aimlessly, forlornly. Yet no matter how heartbroken you were, you must revel in the underground infamy you have managed to achieve.
2. All of your tattoos are stick 'n' poke.
Why would you ever pay for a tattoo when you have a gun made out of a BIC pen and sewing needle and a stash of India inks? You would much rather drunkenly carve into your own flesh than actually give someone money to do it sober. It looks more punk when it heals weirdly anyway. You are even more punk if you have a stick 'n' poke tat of Black Flag bars. (But this may reduce your "underground" credibility depending on where and when you received the tattoo.) If you have your own tattoo gun that you tattoo yourself and your friends with but have never worked in a shop, you are also underground -- but not quite as gutter punk.
1. You will not admit to reading this article.
You are too underground. You only read Profane Existence. You are upset that Profane Existence doesn't publish in paper form anymore because you don't believe in the internet. You frequent the 'zine rack at Extreme Noise and trade issues off the bookshelf in the back corridor of the Seward Cafe. You would never admit to reading City Pages. You would never admit to it even though you are reading it at this very moment. I see you! Hi! Not so underground anymore, are you? I guess neither am I.