Blood, Sweat and Glitter: Why don’t more adults go to indie gigs?

I was sat doing my work all neat and tidy listening to Rex Orange County when my boss walked in and regarded me as listening to ‘teenage music’. It got me thinking. It’s a strange thought that we can like certain types of music more because of our age – especially considering music is one of the most universal things.

But this thought is definitely apparent in today’s society. There’s an underlining theme at every gig I have been to recently: the average age of the audience is below 20. Even maybe below 18.  Indie gigs are swarmed with under 18’s all compacted into the front row of the venue smothered in a concoction of glitter and sweat. Obviously there are some anomalies, there’s always going to be the older crew too. Usually the parents of the band or the acid-head hippy in the corner who’s just doing his own thing. But why aren’t there that many more adults?

1) Maybe adults just don’t go to gigs?

It could be just as simple as adults don’t go to gigs as much as the younger generation. But that’s just ridiculous. If you go to A Rolling Stones gig you’d be hard pushed to find anyone under the age of 20. Or even is you go see rap duo Too Many T’s – a more modern artist that the Stones – then the crowd would be a large range of ages. So it seems to be that the style of music is definitely a contributing factor, because if people liked the music and they like going to gigs, then why wouldn’t they go to see it live? But then why don’t adults like indie music?

2) Teens relate to the content

It tends to be that the new indie bands that are emerging into the music scene at the moment are just coming just of sixthform or uni. This means the lyrics they are writing about usually relate to the younger audience as the band members are relatively young themselves. However a lot of indie music seems to be almost targeted to a younger audience. For example Tarek Musa, lead singer of Spring King, is entering into his thirties (which no doubt is far from old, but definitely not 16) and can be found belting out lyrics romanticising about summer holidays and other teen problems. Similarly Kieran Shudall of Circa Waves fame, is probably nearly double the age of most of circa waves’ concert attendees yet their most well song known song ‘T-shirt Weather’ is all about the stress-free fun times of teenagers off during their summer holidays: ‘Seventeen went far too quick‘.

3) Talkin’ about my generation

There’s always the issue of what music is popular with what generation – more of a music-wide issue rather than exclusively indie. The current charts are not overwhelmed with indie bands, or bands in general for that matter, so if you don’t relate to the Drake’s and Rihanna’s of today’s scene then you are going to want to find another music movement you can feel part of. This has always been the case – throwback to the 70’s where the DIY punk ethos was coming into play. The kids needed at outlet for their anti-establisment views in the form of thrashy ‘breakneck’ tempo hits. So maybe indie is the new era, rebelling in the form of jangly guitars and catchy chorus’. If you can call that rebelling.

I feel like good music is good music , regardless of the genre. And I know it is possible for the older generation to like indie music – my 60-year-old dad being the prime example of a Sundara Karma fangirl.   But there’s definitely an association between indie and teenagers. Maybe adults are put off going to gigs by the thought of a bunch of teenagers off their nut? Maybe I’m being naive and I’m also being sucked into the sentimentalising of teenage themes within indie hits, and maybe I only like it because I’ve only just crawled my way into my twenties. I guess only time will tell.

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