The complete Denver music fan field guide
all illustrations by Noah Van Sciver
Denver is known for its various species of beer geeks, outdoor enthusiasts and sports fans. More and more, it's becoming known for its music, and the varied climate of the scene cultivates a diverse cluster of fans, from metalheads to hippies to Juggalos. Here we have the complete Denver music fan field guide. Keep reading, and you'll find colorful illustrations and descriptions of the most common fans in the Mile High City. Consider this a cheat sheet for astute people-watchers to help identify the fans that inhabit our fine city. This edition is new and improved, with brand-new illustrations and descriptions of seven more types of fans, from hip-hop purists and jaded DIY dudes to Fraydians and folk guy, all alphabetized for ease of navigating.
Noah Van Sciver
Backpackers are similar to hipsters, but exclusive to the hip-hop world. Backpackers avoid anything viewed as mainstream like the plague. They could have a favorite artist while he's underground, but as soon as he gets on the radio, that artist becomes part of "the problem." Backpackers are especially fond of under-appreciated, usually "conscious" rappers like Aesop Rock, the Roots, Eyedea, Sage Francis, Talib Kweli, Slug and Immortal Technique. They also have an unhealthy love of MF Doom.
Burners identify with burning events, where a few days (or weeks) of dance music and art exhibitions culminate in the flame-filled demolition of a wooden structure or art edifice. Burners often have money from ventures outside of their cultural identity, which can be put toward things that might enhance the self-expression of the burner experience. They often refer to Burning Man as "the pilgrimage." These folks want to celebrate art, music and beauty in the middle of the desert, and feel the need to "burn" their conventional self on occasion.
Crust punks travel in packs, and many disregard traditional social norms as a rejection of the government and/or a traditional lifestyle, and in turn, they drift around, sometimes with multiple dogs, clad in black clothing, patches, lackluster personal hygiene, in a group of three or more. You can often find them at DIY shows, events and venues. Many crusties are vegetarian or vegan.
Noah Van Sciver
Jaded DIY Veteran
The DIY newbie often becomes the Jaded DIY Veteran after a ridiculously short period of time. It's usually about two short years of optimism before the door has been opened to another decade of complaining about the DIY "scene," which has inevitably wronged them in some vague way, typically involving an ego trip about not enough people supporting their solo noise act, which is seldom rehearsed or performed outside of their own house. Don't attempt to engage in having an opinion that differs from that of the Jaded DIY Veteran, for they know all and see all.
The Feminist Major
For anyone who was hoping that gender politics and music could remain separated from one another in this modern world, the feminist major is here to respond with an emphatic no. Rolling out of the college dorms and into the underground, the Feminist Major can be found delicately nodding their head to almost any kind of music featuring a strong female lead. As easy as it would be for many leather-jacket-wearing dude-bros to dismiss these fans as rabid, man-hating lunatics, at the end of the day, you have to admit that gender ratios in the arts are incredibly unbalanced, and they kind of have a point. That still doesn't mean they're going to shave their armpits.
Folk Guy is here to tell you exactly why he has all the answers, and why absolutely everyone else on the face of the planet is wrong about absolutely everything. Brace yourself for political pamphlets, invites to anarchist events and an entire set list that's brimming with songs referring to other people's antiquated political slogans thrown haphazardly into the makings of a chorus. Don't hate Folk Guy for his overly sensitive eyebrows and condescending attitude; you would be mad, too, if you'd read one Marx book in high school and then turned it into the text from which you would forever after paraphrase and misquote, then assure yourself of your own intellectual superiority. Although Folk Guy can tell you why cell phones are stupid and why owning a car is murder to the environment, he still owns and uses both on a regular basis to travel to and from his lowly position at a corporation.
Noah Van Sciver
The Fraydians are a fairly placid bunch. They're casual fans of pretty much any modern, middle-of-the-road rock and pop act you can probably list. Put it this way: If a Pandora station were programmed to suit the individual tastes of these folks, the station would primarily consist of the same sort of earnest, reflective and poignant but ultimately banal tunes favored by bands like the Fray -- the kind of songs you're likely to hear at Starbucks or over the speakers at American Eagle Outfitters. These folks are the reason the Triple A and Hot AC formats exist.
It's hard to peg someone as goth these days in Denver and elsewhere because, for the most part, the identity has become so crowded with people wearing the stereotypical attire of goths that it's become hard to tell the difference between authentic goths and those in costume. True goths have a pronounced disdain toward society, preferring to be social misfits. These folks might or might not worship Satan.
In 1965, Drop City, one of the first rural artist communes, was formed in southern Colorado. Hippies have been flocking to the state ever since, attracted by the laid-back lifestyle, 300-plus days of sunshine and plethora of farmers' markets. Are you feeling the love? Using crystals to affect your mood? Have you started seeking the source of your problems in the rotations and movement of the planets? Have you ever given a significant chunk of your life to a Phish tour? You, or someone you know, might be a hippie.
Noah Van Sciver
These are mainstream-rap fans. These people dig whatever's hot at the time, so their taste is dominated by radio-friendly danceable beats and easily accessible and universal lyrics (generally about partying, going hard in the paint, etc.). You can find them at pretty much any mainstream hip-hop show, from Gucci Mane to Waka Flocka, and (ironically) Independent Records.
Travel and Leisure named Denver as the tenth-best city for hipsters in the United States. This contemporary subculture has a penchant for the retro and hip, and those who fit the makeup of this species take advantage of Denver's impressive music scene, microbrews and crafting culture. Hipsters have an affinity for fixed-gear bikes and drip coffee. They have sausage casings for pants, possess a general eccentricity in personality and hobbies, and have access to, or knowledge about, things you've never seen or heard of. Chances are pretty good that they're either in a band, want to be in a band, or are dating someone in a band.
A Juggalo is a devoted fan and follower of Insane Clown Posse (ICP), a clown-loving, Faygo-guzzling hip-hop duo out of Detroit, Michigan. Juggalos come from all walks of life and consider themselves a family. The FBI considers them a gang. They tend to have radical cult-like feelings toward ICP and its other followers, and they can most likely be found donning Hatchet man hockey jerseys and various other paraphernalia and sometimes wearing face paint. Nationally, the best place to see them is at the Gathering of the Juggalos. Locally, you can find them at Skyline Park.
Noah Van Sciver
Metalheads are simply committed listeners of the hardest-rocking genre. The community of metalheads value authenticity within the group by maintaining disinterest in commercial appeal. The musicians themselves maintain a sincere refusal to sell out. Metal dudes have long hair, plenty of leather, motorcycle boots and the need to mosh and headbang.
Punk isn't just defined by music; it's defined by an attitude. For the most part, punks oppose the government and are extremely politically aware. Often, they'll emulate the style of members of the Ramones or the Clash -- or they're drunken rabble-rousers in the tradition of bands like NOFX and the Dwarves, who have a pronounced refusal to take shit, are supportive of anarchy and show disdain toward the mainstream.
The Hip-Hop Purist is someone who resists any type of change in the hip-hop genre. Any music that pushes the boundaries of traditional hip-hop is indicative of the death of genre. You can often find them lamenting about the narrowing of hip-hop to rapping and production. The Purist owns a sizable vinyl collection, perhaps with some cassettes and maybe even some 8-tracks, if they're super-old-school. They won't listen to anything past the '90s, though the hip-hop purists before them ironically considered the '90s the death of hip-hop. Look for these cats at cyphers, park jams, open mics and other places where the seeds of hip-hop are sowed.
Noah Van Sciver
There's a reason that Denver is one of only four stops on the Global Dance Festival tour, and that's because electronic dance music has made a home here. The scene is strong, and ravers can enjoy the multitude of electronic artists that come through town and feel comfortable donning neon American Apparel to their heart's delight. (See also: PLUR.) Ravers plan their years around shows like STS9 at Red Rocks, Camp Bisco, Skylab and Caffeine. Ravers wear old festival bracelets and newly beaded bracelets. They keeps a supply of glow sticks handy. Neutral colors have been nixed from their closets.
Holy pompadour! If you're somewhere where they play the old-school blues rock of the '50s, you're likely to run into a rockabilly revivalist, a member of the culture that idealizes -- and emulates -- the nostalgia, fashion and music of the 1950s. (See also: Greaser.)
These folks have Immaculate hairdos, rolled cuffs, Chuck Taylors, and a car that pre-dates the plot of The Outsiders. You can generally find Rockabillies at places like Rockabillies (duh), the Skylark, old car garages and various retro watering holes.
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