Hipsters and Indie Kids, The Psychology of Why Rock Music Is Too Loud: a blog about the hipster culture commenting on the loudness of rock music.
It’s no secret that rock music is loud. But why exactly is this the case? Why, when indie kids and hipsters listen to their favorite band, do they need to have it cranked up so loud that the bass causes your teeth to vibrate? That’s not just my opinion–a quick google search will reveal countless other people who are suffering from this same plight.
To answer this question, we’ll have to take a deep dive into the psychology behind why rock music is so damn loud. We’ll explore what music means to listeners, and how that relates to why we enjoy loud music so much. Hopefully by the end of this article you will be armed with enough knowledge about the topic to understand just why your friends insist on having their music so damn loud.
An interesting article I read recently, “The Psychology of Why Rock Music Is Too Loud” by Scott Barry Kaufman on the hipster culture complains about the loudness of rock music. He states that “rock music is by nature noisy, and it has been that way ever since electric instruments were invented.” He goes on to say that this noise is a form of escapism from our modern society and its pressures. Kaufman says that “rock music is loud because it takes us to another place…away from the noise of shopping malls, traffic and busy schedules.”
I agree with Kaufman’s assessment. We all crave escape from our fast-paced lives and many of us find it in the music we listen to. Often times it is quite literally an escape, physically getting away from our daily lives. There is a song called “Escape (the Pi&
I’m not a hipster, and I’ve never been a fan of indie rock music. But I do like to go to rock concerts, and I can’t stand it when the music is so loud that it’s painful. It seems that this problem is getting worse, not better. Why?
I’m no audiophile and I don’t have perfect hearing, but I can still enjoy music at lower volumes and with less distortion. Maybe my tolerance for other people’s bad habits is lower than usual. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older. But I think the real reason is that the audience – the crowd of people who come to the shows – has changed.
It used to be that a rock concert was filled with real fans of the music, who were there because they wanted to see their favorite band play live. Some of those people would take drugs or drink alcohol, but most of them were just there for the music. Nowadays many of those same venues seem filled with hipsters and indie kids who are not interested in the music at all: they’re just there for a night out on the town, with their friends or possibly their latest Tinder date. They might as well be in a bar, or at a dance club – except that they have to
There are a million and one opinions on why rock music is too loud. We’ve all heard them. “They think it’s cooler to be louder than the next guy.” “It’s just because they can’t play.” “They’re trying to cover up their lack of talent.” Blah, blah, blah.
I’m going to give you my opinion on why rock music is too loud. I’m going to tell you what I think about when I go see a band and there’s no volume knob on the equipment that’s being pushed into my face.
I believe that every generation of rockers has had one thing in common: They want to be different from their parents. They want to rebel against the old stuff and create something new, something that will define their generation and make them stand out from the rest.
Since the 1950s, this “something new” has been increasingly loud music. The first generation of rockers started with Elvis’ Sun sessions and Bill Haley’s Comets rocking around the clock; now we’re at a point where some bands are so loud that they literally set off car alarms when they play live (Metallica comes to mind).
Why do bands keep getting louder? Because it’s different than what came before. Because
How do you know when a rock band is really good? If the music gives you a headache, right? This is what I’ve been told by many hipsters, indie kids and rockers throughout the years. The louder and more deafening the music is, the better it is.
The thing about loudness, though, is that it functions as more of a means to an end than an end in itself. Loud music can be very annoying and unpleasant to listen to at first, but after a few minutes of exposure it starts to feel stimulating and even exciting. This isn’t just my personal observation; there’s actually quite a bit of psychology research on this phenomenon.
In one study published in the journal Emotion (2011), researchers found that participants who were exposed to loud white noise reported higher levels of excitement afterwards compared to those who listened only to quiet white noise. They also had higher heart rates (which are typically associated with positive emotions like excitement) while they were listening. According to the authors:
“These data suggest that individuals can report positive affective states during exposure to loud sounds such as white noise.”
So why does loud music have this effect? We don’t fully understand all of the reasons why, but here are some possibilities:
First, the hipster is a conformist. Second, the hipster is a non-conformist. Third, and most importantly: The hipster is not a real person.
I’ll explain each in turn.
First, the hipster is a conformist. From the outside looking in, it seems like all rock music is essentially the same. It’s loud and distorted guitars, pounding drums and some sweaty dude shouting on stage. Where’s the diversity? Where’s the creativity? Why can’t they just play their guitars at a normal level and quit trying to blow out my eardrums?
The average person doesn’t realize that within this seemingly homogeneous group of bands there are actually dozens of different genres (or microgenres) with their own unique sounds and aesthetics. Modern hipsters have “a subjective appreciation for indie music” (whatever that means) which means they are able to differentiate between all these different musical styles that sound identical to everyone else. They have an ear for it.
This brings us to our second point: The hipster is a non-conformist. While it may seem like everyone is wearing flannel shirts and talking about obscure bands, what you don’t realize is that these people are actually making fun of