Okay, I don’t really hate the Arctic Monkeys. I don’t even really know the Arctic Monkeys. I’m listening to them now and they’re okay (fun fact: I am almost always listening to an artist as I write about them). But as I briefly mentioned in my post about Voodoo, I had a really frustrating conversation with someone about the Arctic Monkeys that made me want to hate them just to spite the person I was talking to.
The night before Voodoo started, my friends and I were hanging out with a guy we met at our hostel. He was planning on attending Voodoo for Saturday only, so we were looking at the lineup and comparing notes on who we wanted to see. Out of the 4 of us, 2 – included myself – were planning on seeing Skrillex, and 2 – including him – were planning on seeing the Arctic Monkeys.
“You’re not going to see the Arctic Monkeys at all?” he asked.
I replied, “Maybe if I get bored of Skrillex I’ll walk over there for a little bit, but I’m not committing to anything.”
“You should try and check them out for at least a few songs. They’re great live.”
And this is where that conversation should have ended. Because it’s fine, and even encouraged, to share your music enthusiasm with others. I love when people are passionate about the bands they love. But there comes a point when you have to realize that, try as you may, you can’t force someone to like the same music as you do. And you have to let it go.
Our hostel friend seemed unsatisfied with the fact that there were 2 of us who were potentially going to miss the Arctic Monkeys, and the conversation quickly escalated. He sang their praises. He made us listen to their songs. He cajoled us to please at least promise to see them for 30 minutes at the festival. We made no promises. And then this happened.
“You have to see them. The Arctic Monkeys are the biggest rock band of their time.”
(Side note: I had to turn off the Arctic Monkeys after 4 songs because I couldn’t stand the music and trying to write with it playing in the background was making me distracted and depressed. So maybe I do hate the Arctic Monkeys after all.)
“They are,” he insisted. “Name another band from around the same time who’s bigger.”
“The White Stripes,” one friend offered.
“The Killers,” the other one said (this friend is a huge fan of the Arctic Monkeys, by the way).
“The Strokes,” I did not say at the time but that I am retroactively adding to this conversation.
He disagreed with our assessments and then said, “The Arctic Monkeys are the Rolling Stones of our generation.”
The Arctic Monkeys. Are the ROLLING STONES. Of our generation.
I said this was absurd and that they absolutely are not. He asked me which band is the Rolling Stones of our generation, and I couldn’t come up with one. “See? I’m right then,” he said, which led me to yell that just because I lacked an answer doesn’t mean his is the right one. I then settled on the fact that there is no Rolling Stones of our generation. I launched into what was surely an articulate and poetic rant about how technology allows us to have access to more music than ever before, resulting in a larger diversity in what people are listening to and less of a mass following for any one particular artist.
Then he said, “There’s always a Rolling Stones of any generation. Just like there’s always a Pope.”
Let this be a cautionary tale – do not try to soberly argue with someone who is getting drunker and drunker as your conversation continues. It will turn you prematurely gray.
At that point I more or less lost it. I’m sure I don’t have to explain to you, dear reader, how that comparison makes no sense because there is always a Pope. There is always a person who is the current Pope just like there’s always a person who is the President of the United States. This is not the same as saying there’s always a Rolling Stones. There isn’t. (Do you think you know who our Rolling Stones is? Tell me! I’m legitimately curious).
Finally, he decided to tell me a story.
“When my dad was younger, he had the opportunity to see The Beatles in a really small intimate venue in London. He passed on it for some reason, and he regrets it to this day.”
To which I answered: “Are you actually trying to tell me that if I don’t go see the Arctic Monkeys with 20,000 other people on Saturday that I’m going to regret it the same way that your dad regrets not seeing what is arguably the most famous band in the history of pop culture and that in 20 years I could be telling my own children about this historic moment that I missed out on?”
“Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying.”
“Your statements are getting increasingly more grandiose as this argument continues. I’m done here.”
And I was. And I spent just a few short minutes at the Arctic Monkeys on Saturday. The only thing I regret about it is not spending more time seeing Skrillex.