I’m not cool. I’m so not cool. I was never part of the “in crowd” and I’ve always been a bit too clunky, too awkward, to wear the badge of a cool kid. Yes, I do things, occasionally, that sometimes, on paper, sound kinda cool. Kinda. But they’re not. And that’s as close as it gets.
As I’ve grown up, I’ve cared less about that. I’m contently uncool. Most people I’ve come across that I’d consider part of the cool club aren’t particularly pleasant to be around unless you’re “one of them” and, frankly, I’d rather not be in on that. But nothing has quite cemented my uncool-ness, reminded me that even as an adult you can feel like you’re not as “with it” as your peers, than going to my first indie gig.
Before you lose your shit, YES this truly was my first indie gig and NO, I have not lived a totally sheltered existence. I’ve been to more concerts than I can count, but I’ve never been part of that scruffy haired, cigarette smoking, BRITs bashing indie scene that swept up the ‘00s. But, thanks to free tickets and nothing else to do, I recently headed to Alexandra Palace to watch The Vaccines, one of the few bands of this era that I took a brief, mild interest in during my teens.
I’ve never felt more out of place.
Don’t get me wrong, the band were bloody brilliant and, hey, a gig’s a gig, it wasn’t some new existential experience in that sense. But it was the atmosphere, the fans, the whole style of it all that felt so alien to me.
I felt like I was in a room of Alexa Chung’s. Meticulous hairstyles, monochrome tees, casj loafers, ‘gram-worthy make-up… It was everywhere. Most gigs I go to consider messy ponytails, band t-shirts, skinny jeans and Converse a strict dress code – this time, I swapped jeans for a denim skirt and kicked off the trainers in favour of pink biker boots and actually thought I’d made an effort! But I wasn’t even close – this was like London Fashion Week.
And the vibe… It wasn’t bad, not by any stretch. But loads of people just seemed happy to chill with a drink, catch up with their cool mates, and nod appreciatively as the closest thing to a sign of adoration. Where were the mosh pits?! Where was the sweat?! I started throwing myself into the few songs I really knew well and suddenly felt letting loose was OTT. “Don’t show them you’re actually enjoying yourself, they might catch on!”
This is by no means a bashing – I was envious of the obvious fashion sense of everyone around me, and wished I could be as demure and sophisticated as the rest of them. But I’m not. I’m messy, I’m clumsy, I’m boyish and I’m always going to prefer a comfy hoodie and pair of well-fitting jeans. And if that’s not always cool, then that’s okay with me.