By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
he following are excerpts from the comments section on the local music blog www.WeShotJR.com. The comments refer to a blog entry about a Denton band, Matthew and the Arrogant Sea. They're "The Biggest Local Band You've Never Heard Of," according to the entry, written by WSJR's blogmeister, who goes by the name StonedRanger. All of these are presented here unedited.
Please shut the fuck up. You sound like a complete tool. Are you really trying to correct these guys in how "big" someone is? Quit being such a condescending little fuck. —Anonymous
Matthew, you're a fucking joke —Anonymous
fuck your writing
—that was the longest stupidest post i've ever read on weshotjr.
seriously, cut that shit out. –Anonymous
The comments referred to StonedRanger's reporting MATAS' claim that they were on the verge of scoring a $6 million record deal with EMI Records. Almost immediately after the StonedRanger's article posted, comments came pouring in, concerned mainly with arguments pro and con regarding the following three points:
1. Either the record company is lying or MATAS is lying, because a dying record industry would never sign an unknown little folk band to a $6 million deal.
2. MATAS is lying, because EMI in fact does not exist anymore.
3. MATAS is intentionally making outrageous claims to get publicity for the New Sabbath Festival, produced and promoted by some members of the band. MATAS needs to do this because they signed on local bands to play for free with the promise that said bands would be opening for some big, nationally known acts, but MATAS failed to procure such acts.
More than 200 comments were posted, and while some of them were relatively thoughtful and/or respectful, most were so loaded with steaming vials of vitriol that soon the "discussion" degenerated into something that more resembled a fascist book-burning than an online conversation about music.
Subsequently, two members of MATAS tried to clear things up with a rather bizarre post that basically claimed Matthew had made the entire record deal thing up in his head and might be suffering from mental problems (I highly recommend you read it in its entirety; it's...interesting), which prompted more than 100 additional tidbits of pissiness, including this doozy:
God, just shut up already ya fucking losers. Fuck you and fuck your "festival". God, you're going to feel like such a lame ass when you're struggling threw your 900th gig in the 5th band you've been in, looking back at a time when you were so diluted that you thought Denton, Dallas, the WORLD, gave a shit about you. Get over yourself. Fuck off. Fucking dipshit kids. There's 4 festivals a week in Denton. You're one more so what? Good job on learning how to write messages to dudes with acoustic guitars and getting them all in one spot for one day. You are a wizard of art! Now, I'd just like to laugh in that annoying 18 year old chicks stupid face.
You guys. Fuck off. —Anonymous
Does this seem a little out of control to anyone besides me? The bizarre twists and turns of just what is up with Matthew's invention, if, why and how he duped his band, what's publicity and what's really not, what's real and to whom, is so through-the-looking-glass odd that it merits its own investigation (check next week's Dallas Observer for more), but let's just take a look right now at the nature of these posts to get started.
The insipidly angry—violent, even—tone of much of the commentary is so over the top it makes me wonder if it all is just one big joke or publicity stunt (but for whom? WSJR? The City of Denton Chamber of Commerce?), or maybe a parody of the cattiness of certain elements of the DFW scene. It starts getting all Vanilla Sky—What's reality? Can I trust what I'm seeing on the surface? Did that person really die in that car wreck? It makes for an interesting thought exercise, but ultimately, something so knotted can't be untangled.
What's more important, however, is to ask the question, What does this have to do with music? There is constant bitching—online, on the street, in letters to various editors—that DFW has no cohesive scene, that Deep Ellum is dying because no one goes to shows down there anymore and that nothing will ever be as magical as the mythical good ol' days when skinheads and hip-hop artists lived in peace under the aegis of our sun goddess, Edie Brickell. The stunning irony is the bitching is so mean-spirited, bratty and devilish, it's the exact kind of divisive behavior that shatters cohesion like Kurt Cobain's guitar. Why the fuck would anyone want to engage in an environment wherein the slightest move gets you bombarded by toxic fallout? No wonder there are so many cracks in our foundation.
I'm not suggesting some kind of Pollyanna world where we all get along, have the same opinion and skip hand-in-hand through a meadow of marshmallows and gumdrops: Of course, music scenes always thrive on a delicate balance between a certain foxhole-like camaraderie and the charge of childish behavior. A bit of tension is essential to get the juices flowing. But our scene, friends, has more unnecessary drama than a gay cruise ship. This constitutes exactly the kind of self-destructive, hipster-on-hipster crime that crushes creativity.
Why? Because it's an energy suck. Of the several hundred comments I read, only about 20 percent had anything to do with actual music, and most of those were restricted to variations on "your music blows." Not even, "your music blows, but here's how it could be better," or "your music blows, but may I suggest this music that doesn't." Just a feverish, heated debate, with a bunch of name-calling by those who were not even ballsy enough to stand behind their comments by giving their real names, of course. It's a waste of time, but worse than that, it's boring.
I'm sure I'll get loads of e-mails in response to this column that read something like, "What? We're not mean! You don't know what you're talking about, you fucking idiot," so rather than answer them all one by one, let me just submit the following exchange from the Great Matthew and the Arrogant Sea Debate of 2007, Comments Section, as evidence:
4:43 p.m.: It's pretty upsetting that so many people would take time out of their day to lash out at a band, who like every other band out there, is just trying to make it. Where I'm from, musicians support other musicians, regardless of success, failure or style of music. Musicians should be supportive of other musicians, because having that sense of community is what should separate us from every other soul sucking enterprise out there. It's about sharing the struggles and the victories, not berating and cutting others down. —Jessica
4:50 p.m.: well jessica, you've obviously never experienced the dfw/denton "music scene" thats just not how it's done around here. —Anonymous