When this year’s End of the Road Festival line-up was announced, our Twitter feed was full of people we follow tweeting with pant wetting OMG excitement about 1 thing: Sufjan Stevens. We follow a fair few people on the 140 character message social network site who probably consider themselves as ‘serious’ music fans and it seemed that for the vast majority of them this was live music reaching an emotional and orgasmic pinnacle; like their version of One Direction announcing a new tour.
Now let’s be clear – we hate the concept of ‘serious’ music fans. Today the Line of Best Fit website posted this article, talking of how End of the Road consisted of “a brilliantly bizarre clash of musical delights filled with curveball surprise and careful regard for quality and the serious music fan.” Now let’s look at that article. There’s a picture there, which we assume was taken at a past End of the Road. Do those people look serious? Do they look like they are wallowing in depth and careful consideration?
No; they look like they’re having fun. They’ve got big smiles on their faces. They’re enjoying themselves. Hurrah. ‘Serious music fans’ in not so serious now shocker.
You see, ‘serious’ music fans is a term that is frankly bollocks. What we think the term is trying to convey when used by music journalists is people with a certain sort of taste – a taste like their own, that has developed from having a longer, refined, deeper relationship with music over time, rather than a more casual / easy approach to listening. It’s the sort of taste that festivals like End of the Road Festival cater for, rather than say V Festival with a bill that includes the likes of Olly Murs, Ellie Goulding and Calvin Harris.
But what if we happen to like Ellie Goulding? (We do). Can we no longer be deemed a ‘serious music fan’ because of our taste? Even if we listen to music in virtually every moment of the day we can, have been to thousands of gigs and over seventy festivals, have purchased thousands of albums and constantly obsess over music in the way that most men obsess over sex. Does that not makes us a 'serious music fan'? What if Sufjan Stevens doesn’t really do anything for us? (He doesn't - his songs are pleasant enough, but they don't move us in any way). Does it mean that we’re cast out of the elite club simply for having a different emotional connection to certain songs?
If we are, well we’re fine with that. We prefer the term ‘passionate music fans’, or ‘knowledgeable music fans’ or maybe ‘well informed music fans,’ to ‘serious music fan’. If being a serious music fan means that we can only listen to artists deemed to be worthy by the music police, then we’re out. Everyone has different tastes – and that’s cool – but just because someone loves One Direction, Ellie Goulding, Little Mix and Justin Beiber, doesn't necessarily make them any less ‘serious’ about the music they love than someone who adores Sufjan Steven’s records.
So will we be watching Sufjan at End of the Road? Possibly, yes. We’re interested to see if, as so many fans of his suggest, that his ‘sad ornate world’ will move us in the flesh. We're also interested in seeing how the songs from his new record, which is clearly a very personal and introspective piece, work on a main stage at a festival - a place that lacks those 2 characteristics of the album. And if it doesn’t move or engage with us, well there’s always the DJ in the forest. Maybe we can go and ask him to play some Ellie Goulding?
Sufjan Stevens - No Shade In The Shadow Of The Cross