Thursday, 25 October 2018

What Alternative Music Means To Me

Hi lovelies! If you follow me on social media, you'll know that on Tuesday, I went to a gig! I did intend to get this post written up yesterday, but I was absolutely exhausted from said gig and my body was super achy all day. Concerts and fibromyalgia are definitely not friends! Despite this, I had an awesome time, so it was worth the blistered feet and stiff joints! D: As they say, no pain, no gain, I guess! The band that I went to see was a Finnish rock band called The Rasmus, which I'm sure most of you will remember from their UK debut hit 'In The Shadows' back in 2003. Gosh, how has it been 15 years since this beautiful song was brought to my ears and subsequently caused my alternative awakening!? Haha, emo-esque poetry aside, hearing this song for the first time really was what brought the alternative scene to my attention, when I was just 10 years old! For the last week or so, I have been thinking about what drew me to this genre of music in the first place (aside from all the attractive musicians :p), and it's these thoughts that have inspired today's post. I hope that you all enjoy reading, and that some of you find what I have to say relatable! 

I have a feeling that this post is going to get a little rambley, so sorry in advance for that guys! 

I have always found psychology and the why's of life fascinating, and in this case, I'm talking about why I became a fan of alternative music. I mean, there are probably a lot of reasons for this, and one of them is simply because I enjoy the sound of it! I love how the instrumentals sound; I love the loud energy, the heavy beats, the showmanship and entertainment factor that goes into the performances themselves, with the staging and the costumes/outfits and the well-thought out, intricate and interesting music videos. But even so, I am the only person in my family that is really into the alternative/rock/metal genre. My siblings and parents, like most people, like a few songs of this type of music, but it is not their favourite and it does not make up the majority of what they prefer to listen to. And growing up, this often made me ponder the questions: why do I like alternative music? Why am I different? What is it about who I am as a person that makes me interested in things that my loved ones aren't? Not that I saw this in a negative way for the most part. Growing up, there were so many aspects of my personality and my interests that made me feel set apart from other people, like a social outcast, well, until I found like-minded friends, but my taste in music wasn't one of these things. 

This is probably because I didn't care about what anyone thought of this! Music is one of the most wonderful things in this world, and it brings everyone happiness no matter what their preferred genre is! Singing along to your favourite songs makes you feel fabulous and has a positive effect on your mood, and music has definitely been a big part of my life. There was a reason why I fell in love with this type of music, and it wasn't just that it appealed to my love of all things gothic and macabre (although I think it is all linked!). It was because of the lyrics, the words, and the subjects of the songs. They just spoke to me! 

If you have been a regular reader of my blog for a while, you'll know by now that I have depression and generalised anxiety disorder, and that I have struggled with these mental health conditions for most of my life. I started to experience the first noticeable symptoms of depression when I was around 12 years old, and this came in the form of intrusive thoughts and sudden drops in my mood. The symptoms would come and go, and were not yet having any serious impact on my life but they were there, and they were difficult to process as a child. I had experienced bullying up until this point in my life, which only got worse and by the time I was 14, the depression was a big part of my everyday existence. It changed the way I experienced the world, the way I thought about things and people and life in general, and it was at this time when music really started to mean so much to me. 

The Rasmus, Manchester Academy, 23/10/2018

The years building up to the onset of my depression is when I discovered my love for alternative music, and it is no wonder to me why I was drawn to it. When I was in primary school and was still at that age when you don't fully understand deep emotions, I did not know how to express how I was feeling about myself and about my life, and I was not ready to talk about my mental health with people for a very long time (for lots of reasons, but that's a story for another post!) and so I felt isolated and alone. Then suddenly I heard people singing about how I felt, both literally and metaphorically, and it honestly felt amazing... I can't really put into words exactly how it felt. It was so important for little me to hear people talk/sing about things I did not yet have the capacity to fully put into words myself, and to finally know that there were other people out there who understood. It was comforting having the lyrics resonate with me, and this brings me to the reason why I decided to write this post :) 

Alternative music has been there for me ever since I was 10 years old. It has been there to help me through all of the hurdles I have dealt with in my life, through all of the heartbreak and the emotional trauma and all of the abysmal ruminations in my head. It has helped to both uplift me and allow me to channel my feelings, to work through them by having a good cry or giving myself a reminder that I am not alone in all that I am experiencing. It has been almost like a shoulder to cry on, when I didn't feel like I could talk to anyone about how I was feeling and it still is for me to this day. Even though I now talk pretty openly about my mental illnesses, there are still some barriers, some of the 'ugly' sides of depression that are more of a challenge to express, and this is where I can still rely on music to make me feel better. 

I used to get so irritated when I was younger whenever I would hear people talking about how sad music makes you depressed and how it negatively impacting teenagers mental health, and whatever else they were saying, because I knew how much it was helping me. I mean, I know everyone's individual experience and interpretation of things is going to be different, but as a whole, I was surrounded by other people in my friendship group who also found solace in alternative music so it was disheartening that it was getting painted so badly by the media. Writing about this has brought back so many memories, one of them being about when the Daily Mail wrote an article in 2008 about the band, My Chemical Romance being an 'suicidal cult' that causes teenagers to become depressed. Does anyone else remember that? In response, teenagers all over the UK staged protests and as they were one of my favourite bands at the time, I got involved in my own small way. I couldn't make it to any substantial protests but a group of my friends & I made 'F**k the Daily Mail!' banners and walked around our local shopping centre with them! Fun times :D 

Anyhow, let's get back on track, haha!

The Rasmus, Manchester Academy, 23/10/2018

What is it about alternative music that means so much to me? It is a combination of factors. The way it made me feel like I was never truly alone in what I was feeling, no matter how intense the depressive thoughts were, there was an artist out there sharing their own experiences that I could relate to, and it made me feel like I could carry on, no matter how hard things were because these people were staying strong through their struggles so, I could too! My favourite alternative musicians were inspirational to me, because I looked up to their strength for dealing with all that they were singing about, and also they were so courageous for sharing their feelings and personal stories with the world, especially when I still couldn't talk about my own struggles. In doing so, they were helping me and millions of others out there so much, and that is a beautiful thing! 

Alternative music is very expressive (some people think it's too expressive, especially when it comes to 'screamo' and the likes, haha!) and I really appreciate this! It is another reason why alternative music means so much to me. The way that they express some of the most vulnerable and deepest, darkest parts of the human psyche is something that I will always be thankful for. Not only because many artists do it in such a relatable and poetic way, but also just because they help people to express themselves vicariously through their music. No matter what emotion they are trying to relay in the song, it is usually always intense and that allows people to... how do I say it?... reach into themselves and pinpoint a moment in their own lives when they felt that particular emotion so strongly. That's why lots of people find it so cathartic to listen to alternative music. For example, when I am feeling angry or I am struggling not to think about the past and particularly to a time when I was very irritated, listening to a good angry, shouty metal song like Let the bodies hit the floor by Drowning Pool helps XD I'm sure everyone can relate in some way to that!

Another thing that I have always loved about alternative music is the creativity and the expression of stories through imagery. I have forever had a very vivid imagination; my mind is a strange place at times to say the least. I have the oddest dreams and daydreams, and come up with some very random ideas for stories. I have been like this since I was a kid and when it came to my imagination, I knew I was different to the people around me. When it comes to alternative music, the lyrics themselves have crossed over the line from the mainstream norm and broken so many societal taboos that they have the freedom to do wild and wonderful things with their music videos. 

Some videos are like gothic fairytales, with strange creatures and spooky shadows and fantastical people, in an array of marvellous outfits and elaborate makeup. Some are more focused in reality, showing us scenes that symbolise the lyrics of their songs, depicting real-life, relatable yet usually tragic scenarios; which again help remind people who have gone through similar situations themselves that they are not alone. They are expressive and rich with colour and just brilliant. Bringing it back to that first alternative song that I heard by The Rasmus in 2003, I was very much into history at 10 years old, and in particular I was super interested in the Victorian era around this time. In the video to In The Shadows we follow a Victorian maid who has a horrible time in the house she works and lives in, gets blamed for things that she didn't do and just dreams of escape from her life. This in itself has me enthralled in the 'storyline' of the song, both because of the history elements but also because of the relatability of wanting to be somewhere else, to be living a different life than the one you do. This maid then happens to experience something magical, when she finds a mirror that shows her a 'world' outside of her own, where she can see a man who is very different to what people looked like in her time period, with his eyeliner and his messy, feather-covered hair. 

The Rasmus, Manchester Academy, 23/10/2018

I'd never really seen many people dressed like this in my life before when I was that age and so I was also pretty much in awe of him too XD After the girl is horribly punished for something, the 'man in the mirror' (oops, another song reference :D) appears and this time holds out his hand to her, and pulls her through the mirror into the gig he's performing at, and for once this girl feels free, and like she can let her hair down and enjoy herself. She's smiling so much and you can tell that she's captivated by the band who are so different than anything she's ever known, and the lyrics are reflecting her current life that we've just watched unfold. It's fantastic! I was just hooked from the moment I watched the music video and listened to the words, and saw alternative dudes, haha! It has so much contrast to any video I'd ever seen, which until this point was just those of pop and r 'n' b artists, which I mean were great for the genre but they never had any deep stories being told, not the kind I was longing for. I found that alternative music videos told me a story that would make my imagination run wild for hours thinking about what it would be like to be the characters in the videos, or for myself to be in those scenarios. Although there have been many contributors in my life to the way my creativity and imagination developed as I grew older, I have to thank alternative music for a huge part of that. It's the kind of music that still now, I can listen to and fantasise my own stories along to the lyrics, and I love it! :) 

This post has gotten really long so thankyou so much to anyone who hasn't gotten bored and is still reading! You might know how much I've been struggling with motivation and energy lately so when I got the drive to write about this, I just went with it and was determined to keep going until I couldn't think of anything else to say on the topic. Apparently, I had a lot to say, haha! I'm going to conclude this post by telling you all about seeing The Rasmus in concert! 

Oh my god, they were incredible live!! The venue that my best friend & I went to was the Manchester Academy 2, which has moved into the University of Manchester students' union building since the last time we went to a gig there. This venue room was a lot smaller than the old one, but that just made it more awesome (well if I didn't have anxiety it would have been, I did almost have a panic attack when it got too crowded but let's ignore my spoonie problems for now :D) because you felt really close to the stage. It's so cool being at a gig where you're so close to the front that you can see the facial features of the band, and not just essentially silhouettes, haha. I'm only 5'2'' so it was great being able to actually see for once! 

The vocals of the leader singer, Lauri Ylonen, were perfect! They sang my favourite song, First Day of My Life, first too, yay!! They preformed the classics from their 2003 'Dead Letters' album, which is probably the songs you'll remember if you were a fan of the band around the time that 'In the Shadows' was in the charts. One of those songs was Time to Burn and I hadn't listened to it since I was about 12, and I got hit with a wave of nostalgia that was epic! I haven't been able to stop listening to it since I got home!! They also sang one of my other favourite songs by them, which was released in 2008, called Livin' in a World Without You, plus a couple of their new songs from their 2017 album, 'Dark Matters'. All of the fans were amazing when it came to their engagement; it was lovely to see the members of the band smile so much in response to the crowd :) I also just love when you're at a gig and the band stop singing to let the crowd sing for them instead. There's just something that sounds so fantastic about a crowd singing together, I love it! They performed 'In the Shadows' last as I thought they would, but they came back out after the typical 'ONE MORE SONG!' chant from the audience, and we got two more songs. 'Sail Away' from the band's 2005 album was the final song they did, and it was a beautiful one to finish on. Even though I still feel like I've been hit by a bus two days later, I really wish I was going to see them again! I can't recommend seeing them enough & I'll definitely be going again next time they are touring! I hope you guys enjoyed reading my mash-up of why I love alternative music and how much of a fabulous time I had at the Rasmus gig. Have a lovely rest of your week everyone!

Thankyou for reading! 


Are you a fan of The Rasmus?
 If so, I'd love for you to let me know your favourite song in the comments :) 

Also, do you enjoy alternative music? What do you love most about it? 

Can you remember the first alternative song you ever listened to? 


1 comment

  1. Aww Sarah I love this post so much! :D I remember when The Rasmus first came out and I fell in love with them. Although that love didn't stick, it really did make me start thinking about that genre of music and how I wanted to check out more of it. :D

    Gigs are always amazing to write about too and although you were in pain after, I'm glad you had an amazing time! :D I'm not going to lie, I didn't realise that The Rasmus were still going! That makes me feel old. :P


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