Pedro the LionOn to Day 8 of “Intro to Indie Music!” Hope you enjoyed the guest post by Nahar Mama yesterday.

Anyway, what do we have so far?

Characteristics of Indie Music
1) It must be on an independent label (see here)
2) It’s about the music (see here)
3) Lo-fi good, over-production bad (see here)
4) A do-it-yourself attitude (see here)
5) Pushing musical boundaries (see here)
6) An anti-materialistic attitude (see here)
7) Social awareness and activism! (see here)

And today’s characteristic of indie music…  The Un-rockstar!

Un-rockstar?  Is that even a word?  I don’t know, but that’s never stopped me before!  What do I mean by it?  I mean that indie musicians hold up an ideal that is almost the direct opposite of a “rock star” image.

What do you think of when you hear the phrase “rock star?”  If you’re like me, you imagine a giant stage with multiple colored flashing lights and a crowd of adoring, worshiping fans below.  There’s smoke, maybe even fireworks, lasers, and band members all dressed in tight, shiny outfits, their instruments dressed up with equal gaudiness.  The lead singer (who should have colored sunglasses and a bizarre hairstyle) works up the crowd and feeds himself on their approval like a pagan god soaking up animal sacrifice.  Creepy, isn’t it?

Indie music emphasizes the un-rockstar.  Low-key.  Usually wearing jeans and a t-shirt.  Hair maybe a little unkempt.  Reserved, almost withdrawn response toward the audience.  Few theatrics (other than the ones that make you go “Oh, that’s unique,” like Sufjan Stevens appearing in a butterfly suit).

The rock star is supposed to gather attention to himself by being flashy, loud, and charismatic.  The indie un-rockstar gathers attention to himself by appearing too cool to care about it.  This image can show up lots of ways: performances can seem withdrawn and disinterested, or the music might be bizarre, or the band might show up in very non-rockstar butterfly suits, or the stage might be nothing more than a basement floor, or lyrics might be other than the normal rock lyric set of girls and uh… girls.

Some indie bands demonstrate this attitude more than others, but they all seem to have a little of it.  Pedro the Lion, the group that brings you today’s MP3, demonstrates the un-rockstar attitude very well with this song:
June 18, 1976

David Bazan, mastermind behind defunct Pedro the Lion and Headphones, has written a lot of songs in his lifetime.  This cheery song here is about a woman committing suicide, so don’t listen to it if you’re having a depressing day.  For more discussion of what it means, look here.  Bazan has been on the edge of Christian music since his career began.  He’s written songs about hypocrisy among Christians, songs exploring doubt, and songs like this one about taboo subjects.

Through it all, he’s maintained a very un-rockstar image.  To demonstrate, click here for a video of David Bazan peforming Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” then check out Jeff Buckley’s version here.  Different, eh?

Come back tomorrow for more of our “Intro to Indie Music” series!

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The Blah Blah – serving up the best in Christian music MP3s…  as any un-blogstar would

Note: all MP3s will be removed after one week