The Shortcomings of Being a Die-hard

It is time for another confessional, don’t you think?  As if you readers haven’t read enough of my shortcomings….I still have more to share!

Lately, I’ve been struggling with something, and I’m wondering if I’m the only die-hard fan out there feeling this way, so I’m putting it out there.

I am excited to see the band has shows scheduled, I really am. I’m also excited to hear that the band seems to feel so positive about their upcoming album – after all, we take our cues from them. I trust that they really do love the work they’ve done, and from the teeny tiny little bit of Pressure Off that I heard (that has now seemingly vanished from the internet…), I am anxious to hear it all myself. I’m excited to support the album. It’s been a long, long time, and I’m ready to have the band back out there. The shows they’ve scheduled thus far have all been festivals, and it sounds as though they would prefer to play festivals than dedicated “only Duran Duran” shows right now. I can’t really blame them, it is an excellent way to expose oceans of people who may not already count Duran Duran among their favorite bands to their music. They’re playing these festivals to gain possible new fans, not necessarily to retain the people who have been around for thirty-five years or more. I know all of this in my head, and believe me, I recite those words to myself often. I tend to write them here a lot too, as a reminder.

However, there is also this small(ish) part of me that niggles at me in the dark crevices of my mind. It puts little doubts in my head. I can hear it saying things like, “Do they even care about their long time fans?” or  “What about us? What about playing to the people who have supported them when no one else bothered?”or  “Aren’t we enough?”

Before I go much further, I should probably explain: I hate festivals. I recognize that “hate” is a strong word, and there is a part of me that feels badly about typing that, but I DO very much hate them. I don’t love standing in a punishing throng of people, waiting all day for a band that won’t perform until a good 12-15 hours later. I don’t enjoy fighting kids who are honestly now half my age or even less for spots near the barricades. It isn’t fun being pushed and shoved around just because I want to see Duran Duran. My knees are not what they used to be, and my tolerance for heat/sunshine, a lack of clean restrooms is FAR less now than it was even ten years ago. I don’t enjoy festivals in the same way I don’t enjoy tent camping. It’s like roughing it vs. staying a clean hotel.  I’m over the idea of sleeping on the ground, dealing with rocks in the back, bugs and dirt. It’s the kind of thing I did in my 20’s (and 30’s…) with vigor, and I’m leaving it behind.  The same can be said for festivals…hence the niggling worry in the back of my head.

Of course the answer to whether or not we, the diehards, are enough is no, not when it comes to sales. We’re not “enough”, sadly.  If you look at the numbers of their last album(s)…I think that point becomes abundantly clear, and this band certainly has the right to make an obscene money from their art. (hell, don’t you wish you could do the same?) I wish we were enough. Try as we might, even as some of us have upwards of five or six different versions of their last album – it’s still not enough. If they really want to expose the people to their music, they’ve got to look past all of us and get to the people who haven’t already committed much of their lives to being fans of the band. (That last sentence sounded so much better in my head…because on the screen it makes us all sound psycho.)

As for the other questions, of COURSE I know they care. Every single time I’ve worried that maybe they’ve decided “out with the old, in with the new”, one of them will say or do something to make me see that of course they care.  This is all just part of the business of being a band, and when I think about it analytically or logically with my head instead of my (slightly oversized when it comes to this band) heart,  I know that to feel otherwise is silly.  I mentioned the slight misgivings I had about some of these festivals yesterday with some other fans who, like me, have decided not to jump for tickets just yet.  Her response was that she knew where I was coming from. She just hopes the band loves (us) die-hards as much as we love them.

Isn’t that really the question we all, or most of us have?  I think it’s come up a LOT in our fandom. In fact, that’s very much a part of the reason we started the blog to begin with. It’s hard to know where we really fit in to their picture.  As much as Amanda and I wanted to begin a dialogue with fellow fans, we also hoped that somehow, someway, our message – the collective message from the fans – would reach the band and they’d hear us. A lofty, ridiculous goal from two “commoners” who don’t even live on the same continent as the band in question. We’re dreamers in our own way, I guess.  As much as we know that the band probably couldn’t care less about what a couple of fans have to say…we hope they do, enough to put ourselves out there, hoping for some sort of affirmation from fans and band alike. Validation is a very big issue in our community, and this fact is proven every single time a band member tweets or posts and we all run to be acknowledged; or when the band makes an appearance and photos are taken with fans, or when jealousy erupts because one fan gets (seemingly) more attention than another fan from a band member. That validation is what many fans vie for, and it is a precious commodity.  Does the band love (us) die-hards as much as we love them?? It’s a constant question hidden in every online and in-person exchange.

This blog is difficult to write, really. I know I’m opening myself up for ridicule and probably a few well-intentioned folks are going to tell me I’m being negative. I’m really not being negative as much as I’m admitting that I have shortcomings like anyone else. I don’t necessarily know how important long time fans are to the band at this point. I mean, I know we’re important because we’re a part of their history. That’s just it though – collectively we’re the ones who have helped bring them to this point. But from here? Do we really still matter so much, especially when they’re trying to market their music to a much younger generation?  I can’t speak for the rest of you, but it’s awfully hard to hear the band talk about how All You Need is Now was great, but that album was really just for fans, and now this new album is for OTHER people.  Why does it have to be that way? My head understands the point completely. They need the new album to have a much farther reach. My heart? It says “ouch”, because AYNIN meant the world to me as a fan. Is it really the fault of the album’s material that it didn’t do well, or is it really that the album wasn’t promoted due to a lack of power and money from a major label?

I’d like to think the diehards still matter. That’s why Amanda and I work so hard to keep the fan community talking about the band, keeping everyone up to date with what’s going on, planning events to cultivate friendships and community, and so forth. We have strength not only in numbers, but in passion. We think fans, even those of us who have been around a few decades, still matter…and that we’ve got some power left in us to keep this ball rolling. I’ve said this before: fans are ready to stand on the rooftops and shout, they just need a bit guidance in knowing what to say. They (we) need a little validating, and a little love. Is that really so ridiculous of an idea?  Balancing the plan of exposing music to potential new fans (that join the fold of diehards) with enriching relationships with existing fans is the way to go.

Do I really think the band is leaving diehard fans behind? No, of course not.  Festivals are likely not to make up their entire tour. I have great hope that the band will do shows that we can all attend and enjoy. This is only the beginning – touring is a marathon, not a sprint. Those thoughts, however, don’t always stop me from occasionally having low points where I have doubts…and today I’m wondering if there’s anybody else out there fighting those same worries.

-R

9 thoughts on “The Shortcomings of Being a Die-hard”

  1. I HATE festivals for the same reasons you cite. I can’t really take much more of the GA type shows either. My back and knees and everything else just don’t handle it all so well any more. On top of festival shows being annoying, they are also expensive. For that kind of money, I expect a good seat. And a full set list.

    1. To be fair, I don’t know that they’re NOT playing full-sets anywhere, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still very much dislike festivals. LOL I fully expect that they’ll do a real tour next year, and that many will have chances to see them.

      To address something someone else said on Facebook, I also acknowledge that they have the right to make money, in fact I believe I said as much in the blog itself. My intention was not to be negative (had I wanted to do that I would have said that the band doesn’t care at all about how we feel, which isn’t the case!) as much as I’m TRYING to acknowledge some of my own idiosyncrasies and niggling, misguided doubts. All you have to do is read the comments from fans to see that it’s not uncommon. It was mentioned that I should know the cycle by now. I do. Very well, actually. I also know that they’re playing a lot more festivals this time around than they have in a while, and the band has openly said that this album really isn’t just for the fans – it’s for everyone else. It was those issues and my own misgivings – however misguided (and I OPENLY admit that they are largely unfounded!) that this blog was trying to address. Daily Duranie is a blog meant for fans – a sort of State of the Union, and I trust that a lot of fans out there identify with what I’ve shared. -R

  2. Totally. Totally. Totally. I had numerous friends ask me about the Vegas festival and it was funny – they asked “why would you go to that? Don’t you just do the front row/VIP shows now?”. I had to stop and think about my answer for awhile. On one hand, YES – I want to be the front row/vip fan at the awesome Duran only shows – and hope there are some of those options this year in the US (or even UK as I am dying to return….).

    But, I also want to be a part of the Duran experience again and see what they are up to at these festivals – to have some fun and enjoy my band. Now – to enjoy, I will have to get a VIP pass and figure out some other folks to listen too (not hard at that show, seems to be a lot of good music) – but it is true – a festival in Vegas is not in my “duranie normal” behavior.

    Maybe it is desperation of not having another option right now. Or maybe it is that I don’t want to feel left out as a die-hard and that maybe they are expecting us to go to these too (like they even know who I am!)… Anyway – similar feelings going on here….

    1. I am right there with you in this struggle – and I hear the way the head and heart tugs at each other — very clear in this post! I’m of the same ilk. Festivals. Gross. From a business perspective – I can see their allure. From a fans perspective — no blue rockets for me thank you very much. Lolapolluza in 93 was enough for me!

      I feel we don’t always get enough credit. WE are the ones who champion the band in everyday conversation. WE are the ones who remind ppl that the band’s catalogue is so much bigger post 1985 than pre. Oh yeah WE are the ones who inform ppl that YES the band is still around/Alive let alone still recording music. So, yeah. Credit. We are a huge part of their marketing.

  3. I have a feeling that they were pitching for Glastonbury. Hugely influential but overlooked acts who’ve played there in recent years really reaped the benefits national treasure and popularity-wise, eg Chic, Dolly Parton etc. However, I guess that didn’t work out for them so they’re hoping for the same effect from other festivals. I think it’s a smart move on their part if they’re not ready to tour the album fully yet – and it’s up to us if we choose to participate. I’ve only been to one festival and that was to see Duran (Lovebox). I haven’t repeated the experience and have not bought tickets for any of this summer’s gigs. I’m holding out for the single, album and the tour. But since I also want to buy a house this year, whether or not I can afford to see them live is moot for now… I have faith that they will do something smashing for die-hard fans soon but if they don’t I have equal faith that the Daily Duranie will be dealing with the matter! ;-D Keep up the great work ladies!

    1. I love your second to the last sentence especially…”I have faith that they will do something smashing for die-hard fans soon but if they don’t I have equal faith that the Daily Duranie will be dealing with the matter!”

      But I didn’t think about Glastonbury…and that’s a very good point. I agree, business-wise it’s a smart move to play festivals, but especially so if they’re playing their new music. Reports back a few months ago were that they would not be playing new music, which I must admit seems strange to me, but I’m not in charge. They’ve got to do what they think is best. -R

  4. Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking on my part, but maybe they’re starting with festivals to help them get back into the groove of performing live and using it as practice time to perfect their gig for us, their die hard fans, when they tour for their new album. 😉 It’s probably the former, I’m sure. Regardless, I’m just happy that the Duranie hive is buzzing with excitement again and that there’s new music to look forward to. Most importantly, I’m glad that I’ll finally get to meet up at shows with my long lost Duranie peeps to see and hear them live. Note to self: Amp up the DD Tour Fund!

  5. Add me to the I Hate Festivals list. I was hoping they might in the Lollapalooza lineup, because that would at least be in my hometown and I could go home at the end of the day. But I guess that was not to be.

    I don’t remember reading that AYNIN was “just for the fans” — I missed out on that line. But it’s always interesting to listen to what they say BEFORE the album comes out, and then AFTER the album. Compare what they said about RCM before, and then after — BIG difference. Of course they have to spin positively when they’re trying to sell it, regardless of how they actually feel, and then a few years later you might hear the truth.

    They have to walk a fine line, trying to fish for new fans while not somehow alienating the existing ones. And trying new things is what they do. I imagine playing all these festivals is just another one of those new things.

    1. To clarify, Simon and Katy talked about how AYNIN was for the fans in the last Kafe – her 20th anniversary Kafe with Simon. -R

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