A Field Guide to the Musical Tribes of the 21st Century

Over the weekend, the Guardian published an opinion piece that asked the question, “Is tribalism in music dead?” The article was inspired by this year’s Mercury Prize shortlist, a suitably eclectic selection of 12 artists that ranged from King Creosote to Tinie Tempah to James Blake. It argues that the Internet has mitigated the once fiercely territorial tendencies of music nerds, and that these days we’re all totally happy to have Rihanna nestling next to Battles on our gym playlists. We’re not sure we really buy this idea — if anything, casual listeners might get exposed to a greater diversity of genres than they used to, but there will always be fans who are fiercely protective of “their” music and would be aghast at the idea of it ending up on the iPod of someone who just doesn’t get it, man. Join us as we indulge in some affectionate stereotyping of the tribes that still exist in the world of music. (And before you go crazy in the comments section, let’s just emphasize those last two words again: “affectionate stereotyping”.)


Characterized by: Long hair, black jeans, etc.

Often found: Headbanging

As we observed recently, metal fans are a breed apart. And, of course, there are myriad sub-genres within the world of metal — none of whom, we suspect, will be particularly amused with being lumped under one single heading. But if there’s one thing a black metal purist shares with a grindcore die-hard, it’s a singular dedication whatever genre that holds their affection. Metal isn’t something you dabble with; it’s a way of life. m/ m/