The Wedding Present—‘Dare’
When the indie band The Wedding Present decided to reprise their 1992 album Seamonsters for a 20thanniversary tour, they were lacking a guitarist. By a series of fortunate events I found myself in that role as I boarded a flight to Los Angeles to kick off a round-the-world-trip, playing these songs to thousands of fans. As an ethnographer, from the outset I wanted to document the process of taking on this role in order to better understand what it means to learn to be in a band of untrained but highly-skilled musicians. I also wanted to understand what it means to be in a tight-knit community of fans who create meaning and belonging together. The fieldwork was deeply participatory and opportunistic in this sense: this was not a project that I could have planned for. My role as an active member in the group provided rich insights into the span of everyday life in a rock band – from the momentary, miraculous subtleties of performing together live, to the banal politics of sharing hotel rooms, loading the van, days spent driving, and time spent not doing much in particular. The song ‘Dare’ captures for me much of the magic of this strange, exhilarating fieldwork experience.
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Copyright (c) 2019 Patrick Alexander
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