The Harsh Realities of Being Too Deep in a Music Fandom

Being too deep in a music fandom often looks like: accepting friend requests on Facebook from anyone who likes the same band as you, going to more than one show per tour, and sometimes being on a first name basis with members of the band or their crew. The vast majority of my real life friends are people I’ve met through various music fandoms, and while meeting people is an obvious benefit to fandoms, there are some pretty major downsides as well.

It’s an expensive hobby

Being “too deep” in a fandom implies some level of compulsion when it comes to the band. Some people have the urge to buy every piece of merch available. Three variations of the same vinyl? Need them all. Exclusive box set that comes with things I already own? That’s fine, I need that too. Limited edition t-shirt that’s only online for 48 hours? Well I guess I can’t wait for payday.

While my money does often go toward box sets and t-shirts, I spend much more on the concert tickets themselves. Even a $20 show is a lot when you’re going to 5+ shows a tour, plus the travel expenses to get there, and possibly having to pay for lodging as well. Then there are VIP tickets and meet-and-greets, and pre-show meet-ups with other fans where you might accidentally blow too much money at the bar, or be required to throw down an extra $60 to cover a tab for the entire group when you didn’t realize the bill wasn’t being split.

Pre-show meet-ups can be a nightmare

Without a doubt, a fandom is a nightmare to the bar they’re crashing—any loud, overly large group would be. But sometimes the bars can be a nightmare right back. When they don’t feel like dealing with the group, you can end up with 30+ people on one tab, with everyone claiming they’ve already paid their share and refusing to help with what’s still owed.

But more than that is the drama within the group. When you’re fairly new to a fandom, you can be thrown right into the middle of drama you knew nothing about previously. My first impression of one guy (who is now a good friend) was him explaining why he and his fiancée broke up and she was not at the show that day. Eventually, you’re avoiding your own exes and ex-friends, because for some strange reason you haven’t learned that sleeping with dudes who are as overly involved in the fandom as you is a bad idea.

It’s impossible to separate the music from the memories

When your life and your relationships are all intertwined with a band’s music, every song will bring you right back to memories you might not want to relive. I have a hard time listening to I the Mighty’s Where the Mind Wants to Go/Where You Let It Go without thinking about the night in Boston a girl screamed in my face and I spent the whole show sobbing in the third row. Coheed and Cambria’s The Color Before the Sun always brings me back to the first tour I did with my now- group of best friends, but also a handful of people who ultimately brought me nothing but anger and sadness. Those memories are painfully bittersweet.

Sometimes there’s a reason people are drawn to certain bands

Truth be told, fandoms can be incredibly toxic. It shouldn’t come as a terrible shock to find out that a band that writes songs about killing your girlfriend (see Coheed and Cambria’s Good Apollo) would attract a large amount of misogynist men who don’t understand how to treat women. I think the most common factor among Coheed fans, however, is that we’re all emotionally damaged in some way. It’s a constant battle weeding out people who do more harm than good out of this huge group I automatically connected with over a shared love for the music.

Rockstars are people too

Luckily I’ve had good experiences meeting my idols, but there’s something a little unnerving about watching your favorite musician actually taking girls home from shows. They’re human, so it’s to be expected, but the magic can’t help but die a little once you start seeing them in that human light. Some musicians are awkward, some are rude. Some just tell really bad dad jokes or puns. But you’ll never forget the less-than-nice experiences, and chances are after that you’ll never hear the music the same again.

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interior with wooden branches in wicker basket and small guitar near bed

More often than not, you just hurt

I’ve left shows with knots on my jaw from someone’s head or my shin from someone’s shoe. Arms and legs covered in bruises is to be expected from a night in a mosh pit, and ribs and knees from the barricade. Getting dropped crowdsurfing hurts, and so does having a crowdsurfer dropped on your head. At almost 26, I’m finding it hard to even stand before a show starts some nights. I’m almost positive I’m destroying my hearing. Not to mention, Post Concert Depression is a very real thing.

But the fact of the matter is, once you’re in too deep, the downsides don’t matter as much. You’ve already accepted your fate and decided the rewards—whether it’s the friendships or just the music itself—are worth the trouble they bring.

Photo credit: gbarkz on Unsplash

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