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“I lost my virginity to the dying strains of The Cribs”: Confessions of a one-time indie-kid

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Alexandra Jones
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Yesterday, Twitter was alight with the flame of nostalgia. Of sweaty nights spent in Camden’s Barfly in white or red skinny jeans, with fringes so long your vision was constantly impaired.

The hashtag #IndieAmnesty made it to the top of Twitter’s trending list, as people shared their memories of the early noughties indie music scene.

It all kicked-off after Johnny Borrell ripped-apart the indie music scene in a no-holds-barred interview with Noisey, describing the peaks and troughs of indie music, to its eventual downfall.

Soon enough, Twitter users were admitting their own shameful indie moments – and even John Prescott got involved:

Here, Stylist’s senior features writer, Alexandra Jones, writes her own indie confessional. 

Oh god. Indie. I was SO into indie.

Thinking of the mid-noughties indie scene in South Yorkshire makes me squirm and sigh in equal amounts. Cheating on my then-boyfriend with a Fratelli while wearing a striped necktie as a crazy-cool, low-slung belt *SQUIRM.* Hearing Once and Never Again by The Long Blondes at Sonic Boom in Leadmill and feeling that everything was just right with the world *SIGH*.

Sheffield was the capital of New Yorkshire, made cool by the rise of The Arctic Monkeys and Milburn and Little Man Tate and The Long Blondes. All of a sudden, it was kind of OK to be from Rotherham (rather than New York City) because it had been name-checked in a song. And even the boys from the crap bands that performed in a room above the pub next to the dole office were kind of hot.

I’d try and make eyes at the lead singers but if you stood too close to the front the emo kids would mosh with you. I saw a girl in boxing boots and a frayed denim miniskirt get pushed to the ground once as all these tight-trousered teens thrashed-about around her. I learned a lesson that day – big pants preserve dignity.

The Kooks, 2008

The Kooks, 2008

And emo kids! Where have they all gone? What does an emo kid look like, what do they DO, after they’ve grow too old and self-aware to fit into their little sisters’ skinny jeans? (p.s. anyone remember that Myspace video about emo kids wearing their little sisters’ skinny jeans?) And what about the rivalry between the emos, screamos and the scene kids? Did that ever abate? Did they ever realise that no one else could tell them apart? Or did their fringes just get longer and their angst more pronounced until they grew up and got jobs at Vice?

And The Kooks! Jesus, The Kooks. I mean, they were a bit Indie Lite, but my coming of age film would definitely include a scene where I’m craning to see Luke Kook croon “I know, she knows that I'm not fond of asking” from the back of a packed-out tent at Leeds Festival. The sun is going down, I’m wearing my dad’s plaid shirt and tears twinkle on my cheeks as I desperately try to capture the moment in my mind’s eye.  

I lost my virginity to the dying strains of Learning How to Fight by The Cribs. I crowd surfed for the first (and only) time as Gogol Bordello encouraged a raucous crowd to start wearing purple (see above my lesson about big pants). And I desperately, DESPERATELY wished I was cool enough to wear a beret while hanging around on Devonshire Green in Sheffield, a la Long Blonde, Kate Jackson.

Yes, yes I know indie was happening, like WAY MORE in London and all the cool kids were scrambling to get backstage at Koko in Camden but damn it still felt exciting, even 300 miles away.  

Alex with a friend at a Bromheads Jacket gig

Alex with a friend at a Bromheads Jacket gig

I went off to uni, where all my pals were exclusively into music with a BPM above 160 (or dubstep) and sort of forgot about the excitement of seeing The Rakes scream about Strasburg. I sort of forgot, or just distanced myself, because that’s what you need to do to grow-up. Indie was part of my teenage-hood. Being a fresher was all about reinvention. So I started listening to Sven Vath and going to Doorly’s Wednesday club night and suddenly I was completely out of step with anything live-musicy.

I’ve recently rediscovered some bands I forgot I loved (Dirty Pretty Things!) and albums I still, 10 years on, know all the words to (Maximo Park’s A Certain Trigger, which I listened to 12 times yesterday after a like-minded and completely brilliant friend reintroduced me to it).

And now that we’re having an amnesty on all things indie, I might even dig out that old plaid shirt and start pogo-ing again. Sigh.  

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Alexandra Jones

Alexandra Jones is commissioning editor at Stylist magazine. She writes and commissions features on everything from dating to global feminism. She has bad taste in films, a penchant for pickled foodstuffs and a spiralizer that has yet to be unboxed.

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