In Defense of Gym Class Heroes

Stacey Day

Today at 9 p.m., Gym Class Heroes will be performing in the Warch Campus Center. Carefully selected by our SOUP leaders after last year’s conspicuous lack of a Big Event, Gym Class Heroes represents the return of a great tradition of the theoretical campus-wide convergence of students at a single place and time, with the firm intent to enjoy ourselves.

Unfortunately, it does not look as if the Gym Class Heroes show will succeed in this lofty goal of fostering campus unity. In this editorial, I will propose that this failure should be attributed less to the musical group, and more to the Lawrence student body.

The outrage and indignation that swept the campus upon the selection of Gym Class Heroes was both vitriolic and highly performative. No one could state their disapproval strongly enough, and everyone needed their disapproval to be broadcast as loudly as possible.

Predictably, at the time of writing, word on the street is that scarcely over half of the tickets have been sold. That’s about 250 tickets sold to about a 1,500 Lawrence student body. That’s about 16 percent of Lawrentians. Lawrence students are very predictable in non-attendance of musical events that occur outside the Conservatory.

Why is this? The answer is obvious: our culture of music hipsterdom. Any band that someone else at Lawrence would also want to attend is most likely too “mainstream.” The average Lawrentian thinks: Given my impeccable musical taste, I would have already heard of this band if they were worth listening to. Subsidized and even free concerts are to be shunned on principle, instead of enjoyed for whatever they might be worth.

Indeed, as anyone who has set foot on campus knows, the single most prevalent criterion for judging someone’s value as a human being is the music that they listen to. The most terrifying and high-stakes question posed to me during my four years at Lawrence hasn’t come from a professor: it is presented whenever an acquaintance asks me what kind of music I like.

It seems easy and intuitive to blame the Conservatory for this, as a bastion of music freaks who only listen to old dead white men, but alas, a horribly inaccurate over-simplification. I would propose that instead, there is a complicated and antagonistic dialectic at work between the Conservatory and the college which has flavored and infected all social interaction on campus.

College students, anxious to prove their musical competence, vie against conservatory students eager to prove that their musical degree gives them a finer and more discerning taste in popular music. This explains the highly competitive and theatrical nature of music hipsterdom at Lawrence and how this comes to dominate and define social culture on campus.

What is the result of this? Lawrence is a horrible, no-good, lousy venue to convince contemporary artists to attend, and students are gratified by the opportunity to whine, in turn, about how none of their favorite bands play here.

Granted, there are some legitimate reasons why Lawrentians have lousy showings at BBC and WLFM live music events. We work a lot, and have lots of work left to do at almost any given moment of day or night.

Furthermore, sometimes Lawrence students do show: Props to WLFM for throwing a relatively well attended performance by electronic artist Tim Hecker in the Chapel last Saturday night. Nonetheless, the student body at Lawrence, fueled by musical elitism from both sides of the Ave, has created the single most intimidating and unfulfilling atmosphere for contemporary popular artists that I could imagine.

The sooner students realize that their own excess of competitive pretention is, in fact, helping to create and exacerbate the problem of attracting “good” bands to Lawrence, the sooner we can begin to be a more band-friendly campus. Students need to take responsibility for the negative consequences of their musical posturing, and stop whining. It hurts my ears and offends the rest of me.

Please, loosen up, pay the five dollars for a ticket, and bask in the glorious stud-muffin-ness of Travie McCoy for a night. He dated Katy Perry, after all – as seen in the role of romantic interest in the “Cupid’s Chokehold” music video – so who are you to not be overwhelmed by his allure?

If you still need convincing, check out such great music videos as “Papercuts,” “The Queen and I” and “Cookie Jar.” Don’t look for lyrics written by T.S. Eliot, don’t listen for the musical complexity and subtlety of… I don’t know, is there anyone all you music hipsters can universally agree is good without exploding? Beethoven? Just do what you need to do to loosen up and turn off your hipster switch and show up. You might, if you aren’t careful enough, even enjoy yourself. God forbid.