Most people have at least some fondness for music, even if it’s just recognising songs from the charts or a collection of greatest hits albums. Other people get full-on about their tastes, happily arguing over who rules and who sucks.
Then there are the groups who define themselves primarily by the stuff they listen to. We’re not talking about the girl with the AC/DC tatt or the guy who wears nothing but decades-old TISM T-shirts. We’re talking about subcultures that are all about a genre, a phenomenon explored in the SBS VICELAND show Noisey.
Here are some of the best examples we could think of...
The KISS army are knights in Simmons' service
Forget the Beyhive or True Beliebers – one of the most passionate fandoms in the world owes allegiance to four men in monochromatic make-up. Even KISS’s turn to disco, their early ‘80s unmasking, “God Gave Rock and Roll to You” and Gene Simmons’ reality-TV revelations have done nothing to dampen the ardour of a group for whom the film Detroit Rock City is the New Testament to Destroyer’s Old.
Punk is a big sartorial commitment
Scholars of the genre find antecedents in the Situationists of 1960s France, but for most punk fans it’s more about a commitment to creative destruction, studded leather and atonal music. Finding a balance between “no future” nihilism, carefully crafted hairstyles designed to look careless and occasional stabs at social issues is no picnic. That’s even more true of the occasional stabbings that occur as violence breaks out during a slamdancefest.
Venues don't make much money off straight-edge crowds
Imagine the first time a pub owner booked a band with a straight-edge fan base, only to discover none of them drank booze.
Straight edge grew out of the early-‘80s American punk scene, taking its name from Minor Threat’s 46-second song about having better things to do than get off-chops. Proponents of the lifestyle have differing ideas on what substances they avoid – at a base level they dodge alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs, and the more monastic among them don’t drink caffeine, eat meat, have sex outside marriage or (in very sXe cases) take prescription drugs.
Juggalos gather for cheap fizzy drink and clown make-up
With some bands, you get what’s written on the tin. Horrorcore group Insane Clown Posse offers exactly what it says in the name, and their dedicated legions have gone above and beyond the call of duty to celebrate the ICP lifestyle. The Gathering of the Juggalos is an annual festival that sees thousands of fans paint up as terrifying clowns, spray Faygo pop all over each other, wrestle and watch heaps of simpatico performers.
Rivetheads take industrial to its futuristic conclusion
Equal parts terrifying to behold and listen to, rivetheads are an extremely select subculture within a subculture. Think militaristic clothing with a hint of fetish gear and suggestions of punk aesthetic like carefully maintained mohawks. Picture Mad Max, but with an electro-industrial soundtrack. It’s a grease-soaked dystopia.
Rockabilly fans turn back the clock... and swing!
And now we turn back the clock to a more innocent, imagined time. More ‘50s than the ‘50s, rockabilly fans take the nostalgic filter of Grease and turn it up to 11. It’s fine to do up the big hair, gingham and switchblade combs, but if you really want to fit in, you need an interest in old American automobiles, kitschy tiki stuff and – most of all – the ability to swing dance all night long. (Oh, and that gear better all be vintage, not reproductions...)
For further exploration of musical subcultures, check out season 2 of Noisey on SBS VICELAND on Tuesdays at 8:30pm. Missed the last episode? Watch it right here: