whipping boy

If for some reason you haven't seen the latest SNL digital short, may I offer you two and a half minutes of comedic brilliance on this Friday afternoon?



You don't have to be an EDM show frequenter (or even a stay-at-home fan) to get how hilarious this spoof is, but it certainly helps. I laughed myself sick, laughing at myself. My favorite line? Bobby Moynihan: "This is the best day of my life!" If I had a dime for every time I've uttered a similar oath under similar circumstances, well, I'd be embarrassed how many glow sticks I could buy. But the stroke of genius that really kills me - pun intended - is the exploding heads. That's the bit that you'll only truly appreciate if you've seen electronic played live, and witnessed for yourself what those much-anticipated bass drops do to frenetic, beat-hungry fans: It destroys them, in the best way possible. If you've never experienced a rave (or don't intend to), take this EDM junkie's word for it: The physical paroxysm that accompanies a good drop is almost unbearable. Get turned up to death! is right.

Crave Online's Johnny Firecloud loved this short, too. But Firecloud skates much too quickly past the subtleties of Samberg and Co.'s satire in a rush to drive his axe gleefully into EDM's viscera. Once there, he proceeds to grind it with what I can only imagine is deep satisfaction, since he sees the SNL piece as pop culture's confirmation of the bone he's been chewing since last year: EDM is the over-hyped, artistically bankrupt realm of drugged-out musical philistines.

Yawn.

I know that EDM is the preferred musical whipping boy of - well, of anyone who doesn't like it, basically. I can even understand why. It's new. It's not rock and roll. And, to the uninitiated (not to mention the willfully disdainful), it's deeply esoteric. EDM is a culture accessorized by trappings actual and philosophical. PLUR and Kandi are things you're not going to understand - much less respect - unless you spend some time in the scene, engaging with other fans, freely giving yourself over to That Which Is Different. You're certainly not going to get it standing on the sidelines, glaring with disgust at the crowd while counting down the minutes to your (read: the good) music - which is what Firecloud apparently does. I hate to break it to Johnny, but I guarantee those kids that were running in place at the Treasure Island festival were having the time of their lives. Bummer he let his irritation at them poison the rest of his night - but that's more a reflection of his Get off my lawn! mentality than the quality of the music they were enjoying.

Are there drugs at electronic shows? Of course. Are those drugs a required precursor to enjoyment of the music? Well if they were, why would fans such as myself bother listening to it at home? And I'm not alone: Just yesterday, a friend shared an EDM playlist on Spotify...with over 100k followers. I'm having trouble believing all those listeners are "popping a Molly" every time they hit shuffle. Besides, as one commenter on Firecloud's first article pointed out: while ecstasy is the preferred drug of EDM fans, who's to say it's any "worse" than the beer-soaked revelry of rock concerts? At least it doesn't spill.

Firecloud is big on youth-castigating buzzwords: Pfizer, pharmaceutical, push-button. That last one is an especially important component of his claim that what happens at EDM shows isn't Real™ Music. And again, I get where he's coming from. Since there are no instruments being played, electronic music is arguably synthetic - ersatz. But so what? A good beat is a good beat is a good beat, and I'm not even going to touch the subject of how much skill and technical ability it takes to blend those beats into something danceable (my boyfriend is an Ableton-proficient musician after all; I'm admittedly biased). And yeah, DJ salaries are nothing short of stunning, particularly considering how young their recipients are. But free market is as free market does, supply, demand, etc. and so forth - don't shoot the zeitgeister.

Bottom line: Firecloud and other electronic pooh-poohers aren't interested in delving deep enough into EDM to understand what exactly millions of fans love about it (hint: our "sensory stimuli" aren't as "blown out" as he thinks). But it's fine by us if they prefer to stay home and hate. The dance floor is crowded enough as it is.