The other day Larry wrote about Cometbus in China. It was good and I meant to get us a copy. (I usually make Dr J a copy of the latest Cometbus when I’m walking on the avenue.) Well, it turns out Cometus struck a nerve with hardcore Green Day fans, which Larry wrote about today. The post and the comments really made me pause and think about what it means to be a “superfan”.
Now, I can’t pretend to really get what it means to be a Green Day superfan, especially nowadays, but I do remember the weird feeling I used to get (and still do to a lesser degree) for another Lookout band. Of course I’m talking about the Hi-Fives. The Hi-Fives are still my favourite band and I’ll admit to getting a weird mix of emotions when I listen to their music, but I also know the mix has changed over the last decade. (It probably helps that they broke up.) I also don’t want to act like the Hi-Fives are on the same level as Green Day. I mean, yeah I like them more but they’re a very different animal all together.
Allow me to have a flashback. Picture it… Carmichael… 1997… I was at home, totally beside myself because my parents wouldn’t let go to a Hi-Fives show in Benecia on a school night. I was hysterical. I had to be there! I couldn’t not be there! My life was over. I felt a very potent mix of anxiety, anger, frustration, and hopelessness. It was insane but also very real. Over the next three years I swear I spent a lot of time doing things to win my parents’ trust and respect just so I could bargain my way to Hi-Fives shows. I opted to see them play three songs in SF than go to my senior prom. I don’t regret the decision, but I do sort of wonder how I could have been so single minded for such a big chunk of my life. It seems OK since I did make some great friends out of it, like Larry, and the band did seem to appreciate my support, but still… it’s a little weird looking back on it.
So let’s get to now. Am I that bad? No. Am I completely normal? (Shut up, you!) Well, I’ll readily admit to compulsively buying Hi-Fives records still. If I see a 7″ or LP, I’ll buy it. Why? I feel like they need a good home. I used to pretend I’d actually give them away, but I’ve yet to be able to do such a thing. Instead I’m hoarding them. I can’t really explain it other than obsession. (Hey Larry, did you know I’ve sort of done the same with the Potatomen?) I’ve made concessions, like not seeing Sweet Baby at The Fest in 2008 because I had to start my new job and do school stuff, but I still have my weird habits. (Like owning 4 copies of It’s a Girl on vinyl.)
So I guess what I’m trying to say is I do sort of get what the Green Day fans are feeling. That a bunch of them self-identified with the type of fan that Aaron described and took offense. They named themselves as that type of fan. This is where I sort of feel bad for them… because really if they were totally secure in being a superfan, they wouldn’t really care what Cometbus says. (Though seriously, the ones asking who the hell Cometbus is are making me scratch my head. I mean, it’s Cometbus! That’s an important part of the East Bay punk scene, even if you don’t like what he’s saying.) It does remind me of the weird cohort of Lookout superfans in the late-90s, but I also don’t remember the stakes being quite so high. Maybe I’m just repressing more of my emotions though, trying to act like I’ve grown up some. I guess my record collection might tell a different story.