At Santogold a couple of weeks ago I met a traveling salesman. He was roughly my age, 50-ish. He confided to my girlfriend that he preferred new rock rather than classic rock. He said that he exposed his teenage children to the hottest, newest sounds, not vice versa. He bought us a round of drinks.
Later, I pondered the situation. As the post-hipsters among us approach our golden years, is listening with young ears just another form of midlife crisis? Is it disingenuous to favor current pop culture over the stuff of one’s formative years? For the record, I am old enough to have actually seen that original Beatles performance on the Ed Sullivan television show. As a child of the fabled ’60s, it’s in my cerebral cortex, all that peace-and-love and angst and music, and I can still get misty-eyed by the end of the Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” I’m a jaded specimen, and if I could go back and do the ’60s again, when pop culture was fresh and new and not so commercial, I probably would. So why do I like bands like Alkaline Trio?
A volatile power-punk group from Chicago known for clever hit songs and youthful excess, Alkaline Trio is a progenitor of ’90s acts such as blink-182. I’m a fan of Alkaline Trio because they celebrate one of the basic building blocks of rock and roll: the power chord. Their tunes are built from bleeding wounds of guitar sounds overlaid with sunny melodies and smart, bleak lyrics that are smarter and bleaker, I think, than those of my own generation (if you count out such geniuses as Bob Dylan or Tim Buckley). As I grow older, Alkaline Trio reminds me of what it was like to be young.
Rise Against and Thrice also perform.
ALKALINE TRIO, Cox Arena, Thursday, October 30, 6 p.m. 619-594-6947. $29.50 and $32.50.