We find ourselves right in the middle of spooky season. Halloween is lurking around the corner and we’re faced with foggy streets, skeletal trees and encroaching twilight. It’s the perfect time to acknowledge some of our fears as music fans. They’re not evil clowns or funky witches. They’re not spooky or grotesque. They’re anxieties and existential crises — thoughts about musical meanings that keep us up at night.
1. Your favourite band going on hiatus.
Hiatus has become the buzzword for a band breakup. It basically means the band members don’t hate each other and they won’t rule out working together again, but it won’t be for a long time. As a music fan, a hiatus is never good. It either means the band is gone for good or, worse yet, they’ll come back and never recapture what they had.
No music fan has ever reacted to a band’s hiatus with, “That’s great. It’ll give them a chance to work things out and I’m sure they’ll come back stronger than ever.” Actually, music fans have probably said this, but they were lying to themselves.
2. Your favourite band not going on hiatus.
Worse than your favourite band breaking up is when they don’t know when to break up, and they continue to make music past their expiry date. While the Beatles’ catalogue is preserved forever in amber, the Beach Boys are touring state fairs and disappointing a whole new generation.
3. Your favourite band changing a member.
Some bands can swap out a bass player or drummer without really disturbing the core. Other bands don’t seem to recognize who makes up their core. Pink Floyd without Syd Barrett? OK. The Who without Keith Moon? No thanks. Van Halen without Gary Cherone? Why bother?
4. Your favourite band getting too big.
They’re your little secret. You used to see them at a tiny bar with 10 other people. And they deserve to be successful, and have a bigger audience. And having a song in a commercial doesn’t make them sellouts; everybody’s gotta make a living. And magazine covers and stadiums and Grammys and Rick Rubin and this is the band you like?
5. Missing out.
Fear of missing out (or FOMO) is a legitimate modern social anxiety suffered by music fans who are not able to attend events like Coachella and SXSW but follow attendees on social media. It’s a pain in your gut that you feel when you see an Instagram photo of a surprise set or musical hologram. It’s also completely one-sided. Nobody is afraid of missing out on the two-hour lineups for barbecue, the gross porta-potties, the disappointment of not getting into a show, the thousands of dollars you’re spending or the pounds of dust you inhale every day in the American southwest.
6. Your changing taste.
You have great taste in music, but you know it hasn’t always been that way. Some of the things you liked in high school were pretty bad, but your taste is constantly evolving and getting better. Or is it? At some point, will your musical evolution betray you? What if the music you like sucks and you don’t even recognize it? What if you don’t find out until you’re on your deathbed?
7. Losing your love of new music.
You know how people born before 1960 find it hard to appreciate hip-hop? And the newest music your parents like is Paul Simon’s Graceland? And the expression “Kids these days” is an actual thing old people say? I hate to say it, but this will happen to you. At some point you’re going to stop seeking out new sounds, and then you’ll stop trying to understand the ones you find, and concerts will become too late and too loud and you’ll buy CDs at Starbucks.
8. You’re annoying.
In Sloan’s “Coax Me,” Chris Murphy sings, “It’s not the band I hate, it’s their fans.” When most people hear that line, they think of a band that’s decent enough, but whose fans are so annoying they ruin the band’s music for everyone. Most people don’t place themselves in the position of the annoying fan. The scariest thing is you could be that fan and not even know it.
9. Going deaf.
You know you’re going deaf, right? Maybe you’ve woken up with a ringing in your ears, maybe you’ve gone to a party and had trouble tuning out the din and focusing on a conversation. That’s not really alarming. What is alarming is Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (or SSHL), which is basically when you wake up and you can’t hear anymore. It affects 4,000 Americans every year, and while most recover in a few days, 15 per cent do not. That's 600 people, which doesn’t seem like very many, but it’s enough to scare you.
10. This Aphex Twin video.
The only legitimate fear on the list.