I, like Lenny Bruce am not afraid. The Mayans are wrong about this one. The world will not end by 12/21/2012 EST. And if it does, I live in CST and should have at least an hour to take care of some unfinished business.
It’s all coming to an end and we can’t take any of it with us. So, why not indulge a little. Get that one more experience in before it all comes to an end.
It makes record collections and beer cellars obsolete. Unused blogs sit and digitally rot, losing readers by the minute.
We should enjoy the freshest of IPAs before they go bad. Don’t let the hops fade. It’s important to smell the fruit and pine aromas and to allow their bitterness to defeat your tongue. I enjoyed Stone’s Enjoy By 12/21/2012 weeks ago and I’m glad I did. I’ve had too many IPAs who sat months on shelves outside their proper homes in beer coolers. My bottle barely spent any time on a shelf or even in a refrigerator. I mean, why wait when you know it’s peaking now and will only fade as the days pass?
Anyway, here’s a blog post to prove that I’m still around. In case, you know, the world comes to an end. And if it doesn’t, maybe I’ll post again sometime soon.
1Actually, due to family travel plans, I will be in the Eastern Standard time zone. So, I get no hour, well aside from the hours I’ll have after Europe goes up in flames.
It seems my role in the world is shaping in front of me. Aside from father, husband, instructional designer, etc., I’m beginning to see myself as a curator of sorts. This blog is ground zero, but I have and will venture out from time to time to curate craft beer and indie rock cultures.
I bring this up because my gentleman dabblerhood has me prepping for more DJ gigs. No. I am not that kind of DJ (nor this). The kind of DJ I am is the kind that plays his own records between bands at a Hairhole benefit and once again for Monday Vinyl at Uprise (September 24th). In this capacity, I’m not really creating anything. I simply present what I think is good and worth preserving.
How can this translate with my craft beer enthusiasm?
Well, it has with my involvement in the Columbia Beer Enthusiasts. I helped create and manage their online presence while doing my part to create events that promote craft beer to all of Middle Missouri. I’ve even been asked to host some beer/ice cream/record pairing events, but that’s still top-secret. I’ll let you know when this materializes.
All of this curating comes together in written form on the blog you’re reading right now. Hopefully, it will eventually materialize on actual paper, but that’s a work in progress. I may have to back off and curate some other writers to accomplish this goal…
Anyways, the point is that if we can’t create, we should curate. Consuming thoughtfully is good, but it barely contributes to the cause. Curating promotes a culture to the masses, encouraging others to join in or at least appreciate said culture. Maybe I should just change the blog’s name to Curating Beer and Pavement…
Or not. Thanks for reading once again and participating in the conversation.
Beer – craft or otherwise – has always had a reputation for being had on the cheap. This mentality is what keeps so many from even trying a craft beer. Even for craft beer enthusiasts, complaining about beer prices is like complaining about the weather.
I won’t lie. I’ve spent my fair share on beer, but even I won’t (normally) buy a $45 bottle like our friend Jim of Beer and Whiskey Brothers fame. Well, I’d probably chip in to try some, but $45 is a lot to spend on one 750 mL bottle of beer. There’s something about that mental hurdle (that I clear regularly) that one should never pay more for beer than they do wine.
The Beer Bourgeois doesn’t care about price. All they want are the best and rarest beers. That’s cool. It would be cooler if everyone could afford these special beers, but I don’t really mind that there are $45 bottles of beer out there, waiting to empty my wallet. I’ve been know to partake in the bourgeois shenanigans. I understand the allure and payoff involved in drinking expensive beer.
It’s an interesting issue when you factor in the cheap beer syndrome that typically prevails in diehard and casual beer drinkers alike. The diehard beer enthusiast complains because he has to have that beer or that these beers drive up the prices on more regular brews. The casual beer drinker doesn’t give a shit either way.
Something similar happens with records. While this sometimes happens with special packaging or pressings, it more often occurs when bands re-release their seminal work form decades past. Albums that could hardly sell more than a few thousand copies can now ask top-dollar for re-issues pressed on 180-gram vinyl and sporting new packaging.
There’s no better example of this than the flurry of reissues from 90s indie heroes Archers of Loaf. Two particular re-issues just came out a week or two ago in the form of All the Nation’s Airports and White Trash Heroes. The vinyl is non-black and heavy. The artwork has been completely re-imagined. The liner notes offer a bit more while the digital download still has more to offer. It’s everything for which an indie child of the 90s could ask and all for almost 20 bucks a pop, considerably more than what those records used to go for.
Let me be clear. I am not complaining. I am glad that these albums are receiving the proper re-issue treatment. I am elated to own all of Loaf’s full-length albums on vinyl. (Although, I already owned Vee Vee and a picture disc of All Nations prior to their reunion and re-issue-palooza, not to mention numerous singles and EPs.) This is a good development in that I get some nice records and these deserving artists finally get the recognition they deserve.
I’m also fairly willing to spend money on high-end beers. I mean, these are the best beers in the world and yet they’re still a fraction of their wine-y equivalent. I won’t buy cases of expensive beer, but I’ll buy a bottle or a glass on tap just so that I can try it.
So, this may actually make me part of the bourgeois with limits. I am firmly middle-class, but I have to budget my money. I guess more of us (reading this post) are in that situation than not.
So, are you a bourgois beer nerd/geek/enthusiast/whatever? Are you record-buying and concert-going behaviors of the bourgeois? I came to conclusions I did not fully expect. Where do you stand? Does it even matter? Am I just reaching for blogging topics at this point?
Either way, Jim liked the beer I mentioned above and the Archers of Loaf re-issues are totally worth the money, if you’re into that kind of thing and can afford it.
This went down.
One craft brewer beating up on a handful of niche craft brewers who in-turn beat back on the first craft brewer. Aren’t they all supposed to be on the same team?
It’s silly, really. Craft brewers own 5-10% of the beer market in the US. Why bash each other because one segment goes about their business differently than you? Wy not focus all your effort on the big boys?
For all their faults, this is something BrewDog does, but they are a minority. The Scottish craft brewers are in it just to take on the big boys. They feel no need to attack their own. Instead, they promote kindred spirits, even collaborating from time to time. When it comes to taking on a common enemy, craft brewers either turn on each other or turn a blind eye toward their macro adversaries.
In music, the same doesn’t typically happen. Although, sometimes, there are beefs, particularly if Wayne Coyne is involved. Still, indie rockers generally leave each other alone. It’s the fans and bloggers that like to tear down their own. Debates over how indie a band is or isn’t or whether or not a band is indie enough dominate conversation. Instead of celebrating indie rock, we make it a pissing contest where those who piss the shortest distance win.
This is why liberals never win.
The more thoughtful, critical side of the political spectrum constantly beats itself up over nuance, subtlety, and semantics. Liberals do more harm to one another than conservatives who tend to toe the party line. Liberals are constantly redefining what being liberal means while conservatives are set up to just do things as they’ve always been done.
Of course, there are exceptions. There always are. However, time and time again, I find the internal battles among liberals, the craft beer community, and indie rock to be frustrating. I mean, I love and identify with these communities because of their critical, reflective natures, but sometimes they do more harm than good.
Thoughts? Am I overreacting? Does this happen on the same levels among conservatives, macro brewers, or major labels? Discuss.
*Then, there’s this. Really? Who cares?
For a little context, watch the following two videos. Beware, however. Both are NSFW. The first due to imagery and the second due to language. Although, they both feature nudity…
From the Flaming Lips, featuring Erykah Badu:
From Brew Dog:
First, let’s address the Flaming Lips/Erykah Badu video.
It seems that Wayne Coyne and the Lips upset Ms. Badu by releasing the the video for their collaboration on “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” before she was able to approve it. What was she so upset about? Well, the video features Badu as well as her sister in a bathtub (at different times, you perverts). In various shots, the tub is filled with water, glitter, what appears to be fake blood, and something white, milky and sticky (you can figure out what it represents). In addition, Badu and her sister’s bodies are on full display including slow-motion shots of their rear ends getting smacked.
FWIW, the video is decidedly NSFW. There’s no debating that.
What is up for contention, however, is whether it counts as art or just a bit of soft porn, intended to shock. The slow, lingering shots of the women’s bodies certainly can be titilating for someone into that kind of thing. Additionally, the various substances clinging to their bodies surely is a fetish for someone. Still, I’d argue the concept and portrayal is beautiful and adds dimensions of motherhood and birthing to the song that I never heard before. While the imagery is no doubt very graphic, it also contains a large amount of artistic merit.
The above was my take before I knew of Badu’s displeasure. Something doesn’t sit well with me when rich (yes, the Lips are moderately rich at this point), white men use sexualized images of women – particularly women of color – for their own gain. Her complaints paint head Lip Wayne Coyne as a master manipulator who exploited the images of Badu and her sister for shock value, garnering more attention for his band.
Of course, I also see the other side of it. This video is a case of Wayne being Wayne. When he’s not posting a video of a naked Badu in blood, he’s Tweeting pictures of his naked partner (NSFW), walking out of a giant vagina (you guessed, NSFW), or flashing his own twig and berries in a video (REALLY NSFW or bicyclists). The man is not afraid of using the naked form in his art. So, Badu should have had some idea that Coyne would do something like this. It doesn’t excuse Coyne for not running it by Badu first, but one has to wonder what she expected from a man who is constantly surrounding himself with imagery of naked women.
In the end, the Lips apoplogized after Badu and Coyne had some back-and-forth Tweeting. The video was pulled with an edited version due Monday. Coyne apologized. Both parties received a fair amount of attention. Life goes on.
The second video features BrewDog’s attempt at pitching a reality series. Others in craft beer have tried this, but few have produced anything as compelling or aggressive as BrewDog. That said, many simply chalk it up as the Scottish craft brewers looking to create a little publicity with yet another stunt.
For the most part, the show looks like something one would find on almost any cable network. You have engaging subjects in James Watt and Martin Dickie doing crazy things like finding multiple ways to destroy corporate beers or cooking in the nude. They have a travel feature where they visit some of the best brewers in the world. Basically, all the things they normally do have been captured and pieced together in video.
As I suggested above, some grow weary of BrewDog’s never-ending efforts to garner attention for their little brewery, even when it isn’t their fault. They brew beers both ridiculoulsy high in alcohol and low. They package beers in dead animals. And they generally do whatever they can to upset the beer traditions and corporate overlords of the United Kingdom.
Personally, I don’t care. Aside from a few early bottles I did not enjoy, BrewDog has consistently wowed me with some fantastic beers. I even find some of the stunts they put on to be entertaining as I’m sure Watt and Dickie intended. Besides, their message isn’t for the converted American craft beer nut. It’s for unitiated of their own homeland.
What these two stories have in common is that they were created by attention whores. I don’t mean this in a derogitory way. The men in question just long for loads of attention. They stir up controversy so as to enter the conversation. In the end, it garners attention for their craft as well which means income.
I’m okay with this. Corporations do silly things all the time to get your business. Why can’t indie-crafters?
The biggest difference between corporations and indie-crafters lies in the resources they have to throw at such controversies. So, corporations can blanket us with one stupid, attention-getting stunt after another without ever really committing to big-time cotnroversy. However, if you’re a craft brewer or indie rocker, you have fewer opportunities to make a splash with far-reaching marketing campaigns. So, you have to get more bang for you buck by drumming up a little controversy. I get that.
What I don’t get is the blatant disregard for their audience and/or fellow collaborators. Why did Coyne have to exploit Badu’s willingness to appease his artistic vision by posting a video she obviously would not have approved? Why does BrewDog spend so much time even addressing their corporate competitors when their beer should speak for itself? I don’t know the answer to this, but this aspect of the attention-grabbing is disappointing.
There are more positive ways to grab that attention. Sufjan Stevens has made a living off of completing just 4% of a project when he claimed to be working on a 50-state project. Sam Calagione changed liquor laws in Delaware and crossed the Potomac (or was it the Delaware?) with a keg of beer to open his brewery. These stunts hurt non one, garner attention, and generally keep the focus on the product.
Either way, it’s clear that Wayne Coyne and BrewDog need attention. I don’t mind that they need it. I just wish we could get back to the music and beer.
1Sorry. It’s been taken down. You’ll have to bear with my descriptions or use your memory if you were able to catch it.
2FWIW, this is not the first time Badu has been naked in a music video. Check it (NSFW, obviously).
3Let’s be real. I enjoyed it. The women are beautiful and I thought it was tastefully shot and edited.
4How would this debate be different if we were talking about Larry Flynt or Dov Charney or Terry Richardson? Would it be any different?
5Is anything Wayne Coyne does shocking anymore?
6I recognize the irony of using this phrase. It sounds an awful lot like “boys will be boys.” So, I’m already uneasy with this argument. However, it is a layer of the onion that must be peeled.<-I'm way better with this metaphor.
7In part of Badu’s online rant, she mentions that she loves the Lis’ show. If you’ve ever been to a Flaming Lips’ concert in the last 12 or so years, you’re pretty acutely aware of the nudity involved. Also, they’re called The Flaming Lips. What do you think that means? Wayne Coyne ate some habinero peppers one day?
8Waste of money.
10This is pretty easy to do. I enjoy it when beer bloggers from the UK visit the Coalition. They have a different perspective to provide. However, they are a protective lot when it comes to beer tradition.
11Surely, you all realize this. Everytime you bring up BrewDog, they get more attention and then more money. Ditto for Wayne Coyne.
12The message isn’t for you, Real Ale Guy. They don’t want your money. Go back to your pint.
13Stone does this as well, but their arguments are not so mean-spirited. When Greg Koch talks about “fizzy yellow beer”, I get the sense that he is promoting his beer more than shooting down the big boys. BrewDog come off less nuanced.
14However, I suspect he will put out a flurry of 5-10 more state-themed albums at some point. Oregon’s next, I predict.
15I think I have totally butchered this story. Possibly none of it is true.
Tonight, I am playing records at the Uprise Bar here in Columbia, MO for Monday Night Vinyl. If’ you’re nearby, stop in. The set starts at 9PM and will last until either they kick me out or I run out of records. The latter is more likely than the former as I have a pretty substantial list from which to work below as well as a plan to play through The Walkmen’s Heaven to finish off the night.
You may also follow me on Twitter where I will do my best to update records played and beers had. (I updated the list with what I can remember. I wrapped about two minutes past closing. It worked well and didn’t have to pay for one beer. Said beers: 4 Hands Pryus Saison, Avery 19th Anniversary Tripel, Bacchus.)
Track(s) | Band/Musician | Album
- Cut Your Hair | Pavement | 12 ” single
- Here | Pavement | John Peel Session 7″
Baptiss Blacktick | Pavement | Summer Babe 7″
- With a Girl Like You | Condo Fucks | Fuckbook
- Stockholm Syndrome | Yo La Tengo | I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One
- Autumn Sweater | Yo La Tengo | I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One
- Little Honda | Yo La Tengo | I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One
- The Wall | Yuck | Yuck
- Head to Toe | The Breeders | Head to Toe 7″
- Shocker in Gloomtown | The Breeders | Head to Toe 7″ (GBV cover)
- Auditorium | Guided By Voices | Alien Lanes
- Motor Away | Guided By Voices | Alien Lanes
- Try Harder | Times New Viking | Dancer Equired
- Mr. Superlove | Ass Ponys | Mr. Superlove
- My World Is Empty Without You | Afghan Whigs | My World Is Empty Without You
- If I Were Going | Afghan Whigs | Gentlemen
- Gentlemen | Afghan Whigs | Gentlemen
- Divine Hammer | The Breeders | Last Splash
- Boyfriend | Best Coast | Crazy For You
- Walk in the Park | Beach House | Zebra
- Go Outside | Cults | Cults
- Forward Forward Back | Believers | Believers
- Let the Cool Goddess Rust Away | Clap Your Hands Say Yeah | Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
- After Hours | Caribou | Andorra
- Desire Be Desire Go | Tame Impala | Inner Speaker
- Rock and Roll Will Never Die | Neil Hamburger | Hot February Night
- Sink to the Beat | Cursive | Burst and Bloom
- Going Back to Cali | LL Cool J | Less Than Zero
- Michael Jackson | Das Racist | Relax
- Scenario | A Tribe Called Quest | The Low End Theory
- Hey Ladies | Beastie Boys | Paul’s Boutique
- Gangsta | Tune-Yards | Whokill
- Eleven | Thao & Mirah | Thao & Mirah
- Bellbottoms | The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion | Orange
- Ditch | The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion | Orange
- Busted | The Black Keys | The Big Come Up
- Gloria | Patti Smith | Horses
- Born to Run | Bruce Springsteen | Born to Run
- A More Perfect Union | Titus Andronicus | The Monitor
- Xmas Trip | Run On | Start Packing
- You’re Pretty Good Looking | The White Stripes | DeStijl
- Indian Summer | Beat Happening | Jamboree
Here She Comes Now | Nirvana | 7″ split w/Melvins (VU cover)She’s Real | Built to Spill Caustic Resin | Built to Spill Caustic Resin 10″ (Kicking Giant cover) She’s Real | Built to Spill Caustic Resin | Built to Spill Caustic Resin 10″ (Kicking Giant cover)Here She Comes Now | Nirvana | 7″ split w/Melvins (VU cover)
- [whenever you see fit] | 7MO6DES4T-HMOEURSEO | [whenever you see fit]
- Slap Me | The Folk Implosion | Take a Look Inside…
- You and Me | Archers of Loaf | Icky Mettle
- Might | Archers of Loaf | Icky Mettle
- Untitled | Interpol | Turn on the Bright Lights
- Obstacle 1 | Interpol | Turn on the Bright Lights
- Look out the Window | The Walkmen | Split EP
- Laminated Cat | Loose Fur | Loose Fur
- Farewell Transmission | Magnolia Electric Company | Magnolia Electric Company
- The President’s Dead | Okkervil River | The President’s Dead
- King of Carrot Flowers part two | Jeff Mangum | Live at Jittery Joe’s
- King of Carrot Flowers part three | Jeff Mangum | Live at Jittery Joe’s
- Oh Comely | Jeff Mangum | Live at Jittery Joe’s
- Heart of Gold | Neil Young | Harvest
Waiting for Superman | Iron and Wine | Around the Well (Lips cover) Waiting for Superman | The Flaming Lips | The Soft Bulletin
- Inside the Golden Days of Missing You | Silver Jews | The Natural Bridge (and maybe something else from this album)
- Honk If You’re Lonely | Silver Jews | American Water (and maybe something else from this album)
- The Wild Kindness | Silver Jews | American Water
- Discretion Grove | Stephen Malkmus | Discretion Grove 7″
- Two Beck tracks that I’ve forgotten…
- Fall Away | Stephen Malkmus | Mirror Traffic
- Gorgeous Georgie | Stephen Malkmus | Mirror Traffic
Billie | Pavement | Terror Twilight Fight This Generation | Pavement | Wowee Zowee Two States | Pavement | Slanted and Enchanted Stereo | Pavement | Brighten the Corners
- Fillmore Jive | Pavement | Crooked Rain Crooked Rain
Last weekend was Memorial Day weekend, the first of the three summer holidays most noted for BBQ and beer. (Well, and remembering those who died in war, our country’s “independence”, and labor’s many accomplishments.) Much of the beer I consumed came from a can; a little bit of beer nostalgia delivered the good stuff to my gullet.
In recent years, BPA-coated, aluminum cans have become the container-du jour for craft beer fans and brewers. Cans keep out more sun than bottles and arguably more oxygen. While some only see cans as a hipster novelty, most of us realize the importance of these vessels to the portability and preservation of our favorite brews.
I, like most beer geeks, prefer not to drink my beer from cans (nor bottles). I often say that one would never attempt to smell a flower through a straw. So, pour that beer into a glass, let it open up. However, for the holiday, I succumbed to drinking my beer straight from the can without shame.
There are certain contexts for which such pretensions over drinking beer not from the prescribed glass are called. Poolside, floating lazily down a river, camping, and bicycling are a few of these moments. Considering the conditions of the holiday, I enjoyed my Tallgrass beers from the cans, coozy included.
Context dictates how we should consume beer and even the kinds of beer we drink. I don’t feel guilty for drinking from the can. I was in the midst of a 60-mile bike trip with a night of camping in between. Cans were were a practical drinking option. Even bottles were unwieldy and potentially dangerous. The can is much like its close relative which is used to house such camping delicacies as beans or corned beef hash. Enjoyment of the moment was wrapped in an aluminum cylinder. I was not about to soil the moment with a glass and make the beer more important than the enjoyment of the event and those around me.
Vinyl records, like cans, have their own ideal contexts when their less-than-ideal delivery trump advancements in technology and actually add to enjoyment. The context in which a vinyl record is preferable to more digital formats are times when devouring an entire album in the confines of your home is paramount. When I am relaxing in my finished basement with a record, very purposefully spending time with the music, a record that requires me to drop the needle and flip sides now and again is better than simply pushing a button. Vinyl engages the listener physically while delivering a soft, familiar sound.
Unlike cans, vinyl is less portable and arguably auditorily inferior to its digital counterparts. It’s not easy to take a record with you. Digital music is so much more portable, like canned beer. The sound debate is a good one, but I won’t get into that here. Simply, for sharper, more precise sound, go with digital. However, vinyl feels different. It’s softer, warmer, and preferable for those of us who just prefer a more analogical existence.
Both cans and vinyl had good runs that ended too quickly. Newer and better technology arrived. These creature comforts of our fathers became obsolete. Then, retromania hit. People found ways to improve upon old technologies while recapturing lost nostalgia. The can never really left, but craft beer’s adoption has bumped its cred. New can lining technology hasn’t hurt either. Vinyl is better produced than ever and many new records come with digital downloads, giving you both the high quality sounds and artifact in one, neat package.
The comfort and sentimentality of beer cans and vinyl records just feel right in the right context. It’s hard to put a finger on it (as you can probably tell from the rambling above), but they just feel right in the right situations. I don’t always go can or vinyl. However, it’s nice to know that they’re there and are ready for the perfect situation.
Speaking of vinyl, if you’re anywhere near Middle Missouri, come out to Uprise on Monday to see/hear me play some records. The set list will be posted here, but you should come and have a beer with me while I play the “hits.” Also, both images were totally lifted from the great Tumblr better known as Dads Are The Original Hipsters. Go read it now.
I submitted a piece for the new craft beer journal Mash Tun and was all-but-assured that it would be included. Apparently, it was rejected. I say this because there’s no way for me to actually see the journal, but my name is nowhere on the announced list of authors. Plus, the editor quit replying to my emails. Oh well. I don’t have time to be a writer anyway. Below is what I thought would be a first draft, one that would develop after some suggestions from said editor. No hard feelings, just disappointment.
Update – The editor got back to me and explained that the piece didn’t fit with a few of the historical pieces included in the journal. Some assistant was supposed to respond to my emails but never did. Maybe I’ll try again.
Building International Coalitions Through Beer and Pavement
We live in a world of turmoil and uncertainty. Economies are tanking. Tensions are rising with threats of terror and violence at every corner of the earth. Folks arbitrarily take sides. It’s a distressing time to be a human.
So, we look for escape. We take up hobbies to pass the time or alter our minds with chemicals in order to forget all of our troubles. Our daily lives are consumed with activities and interests that help us ignore the unrest all around us.
I have taken up a few hobbies in the interest of helping me avoid dealing with the chaos of our times. One such hobby involves beer, that of the hand-crafted, artisanal variety as well as the kind I brew in my kitchen. The other hobby has to do with my obsession over independent music, better known as indie rock, although no one really calls it that anymore.
On the surface, these two interests have very little in common, aside from the fact that they’re both my interests. However, I have found that one interest tells me more about the other every day and vice versa. Here we have two industries that defy the current downward trajectory of our economy through continuing expansion, improving distribution, and breaking into mainstream markets. Plus, they bring people together. All this is done by breaking from the status quo, suggesting that whatever is mainstream is maybe doing more harm than good.
There’s a coalition here to be built, a coalition between the craft beer world and indie rock community. You see, these two industries have more in common than they realize. It all comes down to the descriptors I and many of you use to describe beer and music. Craft beer is hard to maintain and develop without its independence while indie rock is nothing without a musician’s craft. This is where indie and craft meet.
I have explored the intersections between craft beer and indie rock for some time now. One aspect is simply the fact that we all love beer and rock music. The other aspect is the intersection between those descriptors “craft” and “indie”. For me it’s obvious, but for others, it’s a stretch.
Craft is generally considered a type of skilled work. Historically, craft has been judged not only on quality but also quantity. In order to maintain a high level proficiency, production had to remain small, manageable. Larger production tends to remove the craft, creating product with increased simplicity and often more defects. As more artisans or workers were needed, the craft was diluted. When craft is increased, volume tends to shrink, but the quality of the output grows exponentially. Independence from corporate interests can insure that the craft remains paramount over profits.
Indie is short for “independent.” To be independent, one must be self-sufficient, free from the tyranny and limitations of corporate decision-makers more intent on making a buck than putting out a good product. Independent rock music and music labels are considered such as they are not a part of corporate owned music factories. There are only 3-4 of these major labels left, but they are huge and deeply connected in corporate industries that have nothing to do with art or music. Still, as these major labels deal with the handcuffs of corporate profit margins, indie labels are free to let their artists create and hone their craft.
Craft and indie need one another, feed on one another. Indie labels happen to demonstrate a fair amount of craft among its artists. This focus is lost in the craft at the majors as the shift is toward making music that satisfies corporate bottom lines takes precedence. And craft brewers are the most independent of beer industry as they provide a higher quality alternative to the three or so corporate beer producers. One could really call them craft rock or indie beer if it was desired and neither would lose meaning.
Now, don’t get me wrong, both indie rock and craft beer have intentions to make money. How else would they exist in a capitalist society? The difference between crafty and independent heroes and their corporate counterparts is that they won’t put profit ahead of the craft or their independence. Sure, some indies and crafties have sold their souls to corporations, but they are the exception not the rule. The indie and craft movements are about small scale and high quality. Corporations don’t know how to do this.
And we’ll gladly pay for whatever indie labels and craft breweries are selling despite higher prices. Even during this recession, indie labels (as well as the stores who sell them) and breweries have seen steady growth. Craft beer especially is growing at an incredible rate. Even during economically hard times, we’ll find the money to support independent, craft producers of our favorite goods because we know that their products are worth it. This is no truer than it is for indie rock and craft beer.
Despite the success indie/craft producers are enjoying, our corporate overlords still rule the markets, but their share is shrinking. The large, corporate breweries are watching their sales drop as is the industry as a whole. However, craft beer continues to grow. The music industry is suffering as well. Yet, more and more indies are popping up all the time and they continue to put out music. If there’s room for these smaller players in their respective industries, then they must be doing something right.
So, the indie and craft markets are what’s king these days. They may not own high percentages of their markets, but they have found sustainable business methods that feature slow, controlled growth and a focus on the craft. They maintain their independence through their success. This is where they intersect. I think there’s a lot we can learn from indie rock and craft beer. That’s where the coalition comes in. Here’s to building international coalitions through beer and Pavement and here’s to indie beer and craft rock.
Now, how did I ever come to this place? How have I made a connection that seems trivial at best and absurd at worst?
There are stories to tell that explain my epiphany. The stories are numerous and varied. Few occurred where I felt this deep connection between both craft beer and indie rock. However, the accumulation of these experiences have led me to this great cause of my life: building international coalitions through beer and Pavement.
Honestly, my first epiphanies happened in the 1990’s and they involved music more often than beer. There was a giddiness I remember feeling waiting for my first Pavement show in the Algora Ballroom in Cleveland, OH. A few weeks prior, I experienced an electrical sensation getting pummeled by Archers of Loaf in the old Columbus venue known as Stache’s. There were the hours pouring over records in my favorite record store, Columbus’ own Used Kids. These moments are etched in my mind forever.
Why did this music mean so much to me? There was an urgency, a hunger, a passion missing in the corporate sludge clogging the airways. These musicians were working stiffs like I am. They were doing something I could have done and they did most of it on their own with what little cash they could scrape together. It was accessible. It was authentic. It was ours.
Craft beer came much later. I suppose I had as much experience with music when I discovered Pavement and Guided By Voices as when I gave up corporate, rice adjunct lager for a Stone Ruination for good. I still remember that night I grabbed a sixer of something bland and a bomber of that epically bitter brew with the menacing gargoyle staring back at me. The night I cracked open that beer, it all changed for me.
There were other beer epiphanies. My first Russian Imperial Stout challenging my ability to finish a single beer in one sitting. The beers from Jolly Pumpkin and Russian River awakening parts of my taste buds I had long since neglected, never once thinking I’d rediscover them in a beer. Then there was the first time I tasted my own brew, realizing that I never learned to play guitar at the same level I learned how to properly dry-hop a beer.
Through all of these discoveries and sensations, the value of craft and independence stood out. From the ashes of DIY movements past rose artisans who create beer and art unlike anything corporate money could ever hope to emulate. Craft beer and indie rock share these values. In this, I find comfort in the human condition that encompasses an authentic even intellectual appreciation for a good beer or ear-shattering album.
So, as you enjoy your next finely-crafted double IPA, dry-hopped on unimaginable amounts of Simcoe or tongue-splitting sour ale, aged in Chardonnay barrels and infected with yeast strains formerly considered unacceptable for human consumption, drop the needle on that Guided By Voices record from your college days. Or when you attend the next Pitchfork-endorsed rock show among the PBR-wielding hipster set, order that imperial stout hidden in the back of the cooler. A coalition is being built through beer and Pavement, a coalition dedicated to craft and independence. It’s time to join us.