Like many music fans of a certain age, I spent a good chunk of my free time yesterday reading tweets with the hashtag #indieamnesty. If you weren’t as glued to the feed as I was, it went down like this: Teenagers, music fans, band members, and even politicians confessed their supposed crimes against music and/or themselves. It was an ode to time wasted on ill-advised message boards, embarrassing run-ins with bands at gigs, misguided tastes, and poor fashion choices.
Some of the tweets were about old, ill-formed opinions, but most of them were memories of in-person escapades. As Spector’s Fred Macpherson wrote in the Guardian, “The most important events were never really the ones the NME were writing about, they were the things happening to you and your friends on the frontline...Indie amnesty brings together thousands of relatively banal anecdotes about unglamorous people doing slightly idiotic things into something quite majestic.”
It was also extremely time-specific. Though indie music certainly has a longer timeline, the #indieamnesty stories focused on a narrower scope, and the same band names kept coming up over and over again: the Strokes, the White Stripes, Franz Ferdinand, the Libertines, the Arctic Monkeys, and Vampire Weekend.
Of course, some of the SportsAlcohol.com founders were not immune to #indieamnesty fever.
I wish the #indieamnesty feed could continue forever.
I loved it because I was there. I was the one making a fool out of myself at concerts, investing a ridiculous amount of money/time/energy going to shows, and lurking in LiveJournal communities before posting in my own blog about gigs. I may not have a framed $20 bill that was given to me by Pete Doherty, but I know what it felt like to want to preserve a moment like that. I still have signed setlists hanging in my home office.
But what’s even better is the word choice in the hashtag. It’s not #indiememories. It’s #indieamnesty.
Conventional wisdom states that stuff that happened 20 years ago is cool. That’s why we’re having such a ’90s revival now (and why Happy Days was made in the ’70s about the ’50s, The Wonder Years was made in the ’80s about the ’60s, and That ’70s Show was made in the ’90s about the ’70s, and so on).
The flip side to that is that stuff that happened 10 years ago is supposed to be embarrassing, In the ’90s, people cringed at the hair metal and shoulder pads of the ’80s. In the ’00s, bands shunned the ’90s flannel and baggy Salvation Army gear for — of all things — tailored suits.
With #indieamnesty, music fans of today say they refuse to feel bad about the music they were into 10 years ago. In Salon, Scott Timberg writes that you should “never apologize for carrying a Weezer lunch box.” I say that, whoever confessed it isn’t apologizing—she’s declaring amnesty. She’s not requesting a reprieve; she’s taking it. And that’s what I love most about it.
I haven’t been following the indie scene that closely recently. I don’t want to entirely blame this on my infant daughter, but she’s partially responsible. After reading these tweets, I hope she grows up to be a fan of something. I hope she daydreams about it, sketches it in the margins of all her notebooks, doodles it on her sneakers, make fake tattoos about it in sharpie (but only fake ones). And, when she’s old enough to know better, I hope she declares amnesty of her own.