Dance Music’s Worrying Trend: The Try Hard

Posted by on March 5, 2014

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We all know one — or unfortunately have come to know one. Two years ago they were overheard about how amazing Alesso was at EDC Las Vegas. This year they won’t be seen leaving the techno tent, save to go grab a drink or look in disgust at the kids dressed in neon wandering the festival grounds. They will be there nice and early to let everyone around them know just how extensive their knowledge is about the openers. They were up on them well before you, no doubt about that, and aren’t too sure how they feel about seeing them on such a grand stage like Ultra, E-Zoo or EDC — because naturally the next step is David Guetta-esque selling out.

You see these people across all genres; they have become experts overnight and must insist on letting you know that their taste in music is better than yours. You ask them a question about an artist and the only look you get is a mix of pure disgust and disbelief. “How could you not know the label of Joel Mull’s first release?” “What kind of uneducated ignoramus are you?. They stand out from your standard underground aficionados who’s passion for the genre is rooted in years of going to after hours and listening to B-sides. They aspire to be a true fan, but fail in just about every aspect.

DJ Hanzel is not a ridiculous caricature, like he is to the rest of us, but rather a person with borderline legitimate views who kind of should be taken seriously. Even if deep house is going mainstream, going so deep you see Narnia, or possibly a black hole, is the only course of action when choosing tunes.

The Try Hards (or THs) only venture out of their dark basement clubs on occasion during the summer to see their favorite unknown acts at festivals or outdoor parties. The more unknown the act, the better. Don’t want the fan base to be polluted with lesser minds. In the warmer months, you can usually identify a TH by the ultra-deep v neck he’s sure to be rocking — the TH likes to make it seem like he could be mistaken for a European house DJ.

They long for winter, not because they are winter sports enthusiasts or enjoy the holiday spirit, but because they want to spend their nights in dank, slightly unsafe, preferably unfinished buildings that are one minor disaster away from being condemned. The closer you are to death in these buildings, the better. Asbestos? That’s why they called our grandparents the greatest generation. Windows? Sunlight is bad. Exit signs? Who the fuck says you can leave when DJ vinylfodayz is rolling in with his weather-proof speakers and literally days of the most underground vinyl you have never heard? A party at a club still under construction would be ideal since it has not had time to become spoiled by regular people. The THs look enviously at Space New York not for what it could be — a sparkling new club that hosts a wide variety of top-notch talent — but rather as an incomplete club with so much potential for use in its current form.

The TH will talk about the talk about the “good ol’ days” of the ‘90s as if they were there. Illegal warehouse raves were the purest parties, man, because the possibility of getting busted and spending the rest of the night in jail would totally keep your heart racing faster than 4 E pills.

They are constantly looking to stay ahead of the trends and blaze paths that most people would not even dare setting foot on.

They will try and bury their mainstream-loving past to the extent that they’d contemplate erasing old Facebook history in service of protecting their street cred. Of course, if you were to exhibit NSA-like intelligence gathering skills, you would likely unearth the time they wore a neon construction vest to a Tiësto show in 2010, or set 4 alarms to ensure they got Swedish House Mafia tickets. In other words, you’d find that their current mythology falls apart faster than Kanye West’s composure around Paparazzi.

THs listen to dance music — or proper house music. “EDM” is some sort of disease contracted by the mainstream masses. “America is killing dance music” is a constant refrain, even though the TH’s love for dance music only started 3 or 4 years ago. It is hypocrisy of a magnitude that rivals only that of a politician, but to say so would incite animosity so deep, not even Carl Cox with a basket of puppies could diffuse the situation.

Their interest in promoting the scene is entirely superficial. They have a sense of intellectual superiority built on hours scouring blogs, social media platforms and forums, drawing conclusions about genres that the echo chamber of the internet only serves to reinforce. The TH acts as though they’ve had all their arcane knowledge since birthday; that it was not the result of hours of research, digging, and conversations with their peers. When faced with the opportunity to inform a less in-the-know dance music fan, their arrogance comes front and center without any sense of understanding or compassion.

The vast majority of the negative, “what’s wrong with the scene” attention is usually directed at the stereotypical college kid who shows up to festivals in a “Where’s Molly” tank and a neon YOLO trucker hat, who only attends to take drugs and rage hard, bro. It goes without saying that these clowns deserve our collective reprobation as a matter of course.

However, on the opposite end of the spectrum, the asshat of a know-it-all that is the Try Hard manages to fly under the radar — and deserves our reprobation as well. Snobbery for the sake of snobbery is nothing new, but all too often the pervasive desire to one up the next person means that the Try Hard turns into something unimpeachable — something borderline aspirational. One possible reason for this is that while it is all too easy to criticize the mainstream, to touch the underground is tantamount to sacrilege. Most people would rather not side against the underground in an argument, as they won’t win in the court of public opinion. But remember: it’s the love, the happiness and unity that brings us all to dance music, not the false sense of entitlement and intellectual superiority displayed by a small minority.

The TH is the ultimate hipster. When something becomes cool, they’re jumping ship to the next unknown trend. What is it, you ask? You and your normal v-necks will probably never find out. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

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