being a fangirl

I read this article and wanted to write something about being a fan.

I’m ten years old, sitting in the back of my parents Honda, listening to their CDs. It’s 2008. My dad has bought the Strokes, Adele, the Killers, the Fratellis, Vampire Weekend, and the Arctic Monkeys. I am still listening to Hannah Montana and I’m upset that we’re not allowed to play the new Kelly Clarkson song. The same year, my parents buy me a purple iPod. It is shiny and new and I can put all my favourite songs on it, and I don’t have to listen to their rubbish CDs.

It’s the summer of 2012, and I’m 14. I’ve left my purple iPod at home by accident and so I can’t listen to any of the music I like. Very Annoying. My dad lends me his iPod, and I find a song called Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa. We are staying in a place called Cape Cod so I think that’s pretty cool and I listen to it. What follows is the start of my teenage fangirl identity. Not a phase so much as a way of life, I think. I’m obsessed.

It’s November 2013, I’m 15 and oh boy am I excited. I found tickets to Vampire Weekend’s London show the week before they play. I don’t even have time to get properly excited because once we’ve arranged how I’ll get there and back home again, the day has arrived. I don’t get there very early because I don’t really know the etiquette of being a huge fan just yet. I’m quite near the back, but I think that’s okay. I’m quite small and not sure I’m ready for the huge speakers on the front rows. It’s my first experience of unadulterated joy and it’s my first experience of letting go. My shoulders unhunch from their clenched position up by my ears. I am surrounded (literally) by men over the age of 25 (Very Old in my 15 year old brain). They don’t scream the lyrics like I do, and they kind of edge away from me. It’s fine, I don’t really care, but one of them sighs really loudly and another few roll their eyes. It’s my first experience of being looked at like that. With such patronising contempt. But whatever, at least I’m enjoying seeing my favourite band.

I start a music blog in 2013 as well. It’s mainly so I can write up a lengthy, analytical, loving review of Vampire Weekend’s third LP. No-one really reads it. (If you want to, it’s here. I was 16, be kind).

I see them once more. It is Reading Festival in 2014. I’m crying and screaming so much that a boy asks if I want to go on his shoulders to see them. I look worried; I know what that sometimes means. He reassures me he likes boys so won’t try anything. I grin. Up in the air I float on clouds of love and joy. I feel like I know the people on stage. It’s strange but it isn’t unusual. I don’t think I have quite got to grips with how far this whole thing will go. Still happy, still judged.

As a teen, I am really one of the only people I know that loves them this much. That’s probably egotistical, but I don’t think that at this point, any of my friends have the obsessive personality that I do, and I begin to hide it. I look for comfort and community in other places. Twitter is just entering my world for the first time. I make a separate account, which doesn’t have my last name attached to it. I make friends. Girls, mostly. Girls who are like me and who cry when Ezra (that’s the lead singer of VW) comes on stage. We all in live totally different lives, in loads of different parts of the world. It is a cacophony of angst and love and passion. Again, no-one really knows it exists outside of us. And of course when we tweet a member of the band and they reply to us, nothing really feels better. It’s a rush that someone we think about on a daily basis acknowledges us.

I could intellectualise this and say we were different from the One Direction fans, because the music we listened to was better crafted, more intelligent, and unique. But that would be a betrayal. A betrayal to the fan base as a community of young women and a betrayal to all the other girls who dedicated their hearts to a different band.

By 2016, I can tell you everything and anything about this band. I can tell you that they sing about a chandelier in their third album because they feel the weight of the success of their first album which had a chandelier on it. I can tell you how many side projects the bassist has put out since 2013. I can tell you who Hannah Hunt is (a name of a track on the third album). I can tell how much they got sued for when they used a polaroid they found in their house for the second album’s cover. (They were found out when the woman in the polaroid saw her own face on her daughter’s newest CD).

When I visit New York for the first time I go on a tour of the city, guided by VWs spots and inspirations (I made the tour myself, having mapped it out weeks before). I know every word to every song and every back story so well and the city is so interwoven with their sounds and songs that it feels like home.

***

This is quite weird to write about. I don’t think it’s very interesting, but I think it is genuine and it’s a part of my life I didn’t share with many people.

I don’t think my appreciation and love of their art was any less legitimate because I was young and it was expressed in tweets and posters.

***

It’s 2017, and Vampire Weekend are maybe realising a new album, maybe not. One of the members of the band has left. My twitter account is left untouched for the most part. I’ve formed real life friendships from it. My love for music has expanded and morphed and manifested into a love for theatre.

**

I saw Father John Misty the other week, who is someone I discovered because of Vampire Weekend and I knew all the words to his songs, was quite far back, and just jumped and lost my voice and it was excellent. At the end, someone turned around and said ‘Wow you must be his biggest fan!’ I apologised because I was scared that my joy had infringed on his watching. He said ‘No it’s lovely, thank you’.

It’s a little about forming communities, a little about appreciating art, and little about sharing.

I’m quite proud of how much I loved Vampire Weekend and all those other bands back when I was 16. I’m so so happy that I waited outside venues for over seven hours. I find it hilarious and lovely that I missed the last day of NSDF in 2015 (and so missed finding out I’d won an award) to go and wait outside a concert venue on the other side of the country. I love finding fans in weird and new places (some new university friends often surprise me with similar stories of love and fandom).

As a fun side note, having moved back to my main twitter account where I talk about theatre and stuff, it doesn’t feel much different. We have created a weird little mini fan base in our twittersphere. It is so insular that I don’t think we realise it, but we are all little fangirls writing blogs and tweeting about our favourite directors. It’s good. I’ve moved into a new sphere of fangirling, one that is maybe more accepted because this fan base includes way more men, and less teenagers.

 

(also if you were wondering the gif at the top is VW winning their first grammy in 2013)

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BAIO – Brainwash yyrr Face

BAIO takes a refreshing step away from his Columbia-college band roots with the certainly individual, but not definably indie, new electro-chill single. 

Ahead of upcoming solo album ‘The Names’ Chris Baio, bassist of indie-prep band Vampire Weekend, has released the opening track ‘Brainwash yyrr Face’. Make no mistake, this track is not a Vampire Weekend rip-off – far from it. Nowhere in his new album (I imagine) will one find screeching vocals and summer guitar riffs. Instead, subdued bass electronic tracks which shuffle and dance around your headphones are what characterise Chris Baio’s, aka ‘BAIO’, solo music. He shows himself as a competent and interesting DJ; flavourful and yet subtle. The track is a process. It starts very minimal, with a simple keyboard-type beat, then begins to loop and repeat, suddenly soft vocals creep in and it begins to take form. By the chorus, samples are being tossed into the mix and new layers emerge. Things get interesting. It takes a little while to get going but I’d like to think that is on purpose as the minimalism begins to repeat itself when the heavy beat is introduced. It shows a slow building up, layering, a journey. That is what I take from the single anyway.

His track ‘On&On&On&On’ released in September 2014 was also featured on this blog and I thoroughly enjoyed that single. This one, if possible, surpasses it and allows a slightly edgier sound to be sought out by the expert looping and reversed bass lines. This may not be what one expects from an indie band member, but it’s well worth a listen, and I certainly will be pre-ordering the album. It is chilled mellow track, with a likeness to Garden City Movement, Phoria, MK, and James Blake.

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Major Lazer – Jessica (featuring Ezra Koenig)

So this song is on repeat on my phone at the moment – I just love it! It’s quirky, catchy and a little weird. It comes from Major Lazer’s latest LP ‘Free The Universe’. For those who don’t know, Major Lazer is an electronic music project created by Diplo in which he collaborates with artists from various genres, the latest being Ariana Grande with All My Love. ‘Jessica’ features a lot of double meanings and puns, which are ingenious and different and it also includes lyrics sung in German. Electronic, futuristic and sensual, ‘Jessica’ is one to listen to, even if you don’t think it will be your thing – I promise it will stick in your head and you’ll HAVE to listen to it again (and again and again).

BAIO – On&On&On&On

Tropical beach vibes and subdued cool radiates from this new track by BAIO of Vampire Weekend. ‘On&On&On&On’ may have a lot of the similar African influences and infamous summer riffs of early Vampire Weekend, however it is definitely a step in a different direction for bassist Chris Baio.

I love this track and although summer is coming to an end, ‘On&On&On&On’ feels like it could extend the heat and energy of those few months for the whole year round. Along with notably subtle and feminine vocals, the repeated beats and distorted keyboard sounds add to the enticing nature of this track and give it an undeniable edge over my other favourite DJ tunes. A deep, brass sounding bass line contrasts with the smooth finger clicking and simple but melodic notes to create a sound which was just made to be heard in a hammock or on a sun lounger. It’s interesting enough to put on repeat and exciting enough to tweet about more than once. I would highly recommend buying the new EP; you won’t regret it.

Reading Festival 2014

‘Reading and Leeds’ is one of the biggest festivals in Britain, with over 90,000 festival goers piling into both sites on the August Bank Holiday weekend. This was my first festival, and it was definitely a ‘go big or go home’ situation. Before the festival started I was so anxious about not being able to see my favourite bands and missing some really great performances. Of course I didn’t need to worry at all; everyone is so helpful and I felt completely at ease. Although the site is huge, it feels so intimate. One of the best things I found is that it’s totally up to you how involved you are in the festival, whether you want to be deep in the mosh pit or relaxing in the sun you feel immersed wherever you are. The weekend was amazing and totally overwhelming.

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Favourite Stage

The Festival Republic Stage had a great atmosphere and the sound quality was awesome. Some of my favourite bands played there, like Wolf Alice and Drowners and both had great turn outs. It had a huge mixture of different bands and genres which is great, as well as having well known artists and really small artists which made it quite unique. It felt very intimate and it was a fairly small space which is why I think I really liked it.

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Best New Discovery

On Friday, I felt quite chilled so we sat down by the main stage and took in the music. ‘Blood Red Shoes’ were very good, they had a big crowd and a lot of energy for such an early set. I will definitely check out their album, not only because they were really excellent, but also because their lead vocalist was also the drummer, which I have never seen before!

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Best Experience

During Vampire Weekend I met a lovely boy called Andrew who kindly enough offered to lift me up on his shoulders, which I accepted very gratefully. During ‘Cousins’ I had a great view of the stage and it was probably the coolest thing that has ever happened to me. Their whole set was probably my best experience at the festival. It was a fun, quirky atmosphere and my favourite band in the whole world were performing.

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Best Slot

The Kooks and The Horrors had a joint slot in the Radio 1/NME tent before the 1975, which for me was an amazing way to spend two hours. With electric energy and infectious enthusiasm the Kooks had the tent bursting at the seams, and the loudest crowd singalong all weekend. The Horrors had a less of a crowd but their set was by no means smaller. The spectacular light show and exciting guitar riffs lit up the tent, and they had the best ending to a set in one minute I have ever seen.

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Who I Want to See Again

For me, a gig has a very different atmosphere to a festival. At a festival you might get some people who are just there for the experience, and some people who are invested in music and music culture; it’s a lottery in the crowd. At a gig, everyone is there for one specific artist, nearly everyone has heard their music before, and they appreciate the band completely. Keeping this in mind – I would probably want to Peace again, as I would definitely like to see a longer set, but also Jake Bugg, as I feel like somewhere like Alexandra Palace, where he is playing later this year, would be very atmospheric and intimate.

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Unexpected Favourites

I was not expecting to see any bands that massively exceeded my expectations, or at least not in the way this band did. I saw the Drowners in the Festival Republic tent on Sunday and for me it was the best set that day. I was very close to the front, with only a couple of people in front of me, and the band blew me away. Matt Hitt and Co had an effortless stage presence, causing girls to chuck their bras on stage from left to right. Clearly influenced by The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys and the best of early brit pop, each catchy and irresistible tune was played in true rock and roll style.

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Best Line Up

The best 3 sequential acts for me happened on Saturday night. Imagine Dragons put on a friendly, enjoyable and feel good show which attracted a huge number of fans. Dan Reynolds, their frontman, seemed genuinely grateful and humbled at the number of fans present, and their enjoyment of the music. In turn, I was happy and excited to be a part of their set, especially when Dan ran down through the crowd, which felt very heartfelt, but also surreal, probably for both him and us. Next up; Jake Bugg. Without fail, listening to Jake Bugg’s music always gives me a warm fuzzy feeling in my stomach, and at Reading Festival, that familiar feeling was so much better. With a gorgeous summer sunset as his backdrop, Bugg delivered a refreshingly simple and very rewarding set. His stage presence was incredible, but he didn’t seem at all obnoxious or grumpy as he is sometimes shown to be. His setlist was evenly split between his two albums, and he encouraged a whole crowd sing-a-long of ‘Broken’, a very beautiful song for such a magical moment. Then came the big on; those Arctic Monkeys. Swaggering onstage with hair gel by the bucket load; Alex, Matt, Nick and Jamie began an epic headlining set. From the very first riff of ‘Do I Wanna Know’ the crowd were in the palm of their hand; screaming and jumping around, arms flailing in the air. Drawing perhaps the largest and most invested crowd of the whole weekend, the Monkeys delivered classics like ‘When the Sun Goes Down’ and ‘Teddy Picker’ along with a multitude of hits from their bestselling album, AM, as well as the odd Oasis reference thrown in there. Without a doubt, the best set, crowd and atmosphere of the whole three days.

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I wouldn’t have wanted to spend the weekend any other way and I hope to return to Reading for next year and for many years to come.

 

Why We Should Still Buy CDs

It is very rare that I would think to buy a friend their favourite band’s new CD, I would rather give them an iTunes voucher, wouldn’t you? Despite having a music library of nearly 4000 songs, I own very few CDs, and the ones I do own consist of Miley Cyrus, Avril Lavigne and Kelly Clarkson. (Please excuse my clearly exquisite music taste at age 12). This is the case with most of my friends as well, as far as I know. I’m only sixteen and it doesn’t feel that long ago that I spent pocket money browsing hmv, and treasured my handheld CD player.

We all own an MP3, or an iPod, and everyone downloads music straight to their device without a second thought. Even iTunes is being out done by the likes of Spotify and Napster, offering free subscriptions and unlimited music. Don’t get me wrong, these services are great, so useful, and make music extremely accessible. But, sometimes I think it would be nice if we all still bought CDs, even if not to listen to on an old stereo. My dad for instance, will often buy CDs from amazon if the band is significant or he wants the collection. For example, he bought ‘Ghost Stories’, Coldplay’s newest LP and although it isn’t one of his favourite albums and he doesn’t listen to it all the time, we have every other Coldplay CD and I think it is almost like a memento of the band.

Most people, including myself, don’t buy CDs anymore of course, because technology has moved on, and we don’t feel the need to buy them. I personally feel it is a great shame, and CDs are cheap, easy to acquire and often beautiful reminders of a time, place or person, or if you’re like me, your (slightly embarrassing) tween years. Having discovered that my parents actually do have quite good music taste, I scoured their vast CD collection for my GCSE revision accompanying music. While doing this, I realised that the sleeves of the albums, and the accompanying lyric booklets were quite interesting and an insight into the aesthetic of the band. Here are a couple of my favourites:

I hope you agree that we should buy CDs, and that you also enjoy the look and feel of a brand new album in your hands, only a few days after it’s release.