When your unpopular tastes become mainstream and how people react to you

September 9 2010

While this entry covers a topic specific to my musical tastes, that is not the focus of this entry. Background: On Wednesday evening, Mike Portnoy quit the band Dream Theater. For anyone who has read my blog or followed me on-line knows that Dream Theater is my favorite band. I don't have a DT tattoo or anything permanent, but otherwise some might call my fandom obsessive. Yes, my birthday gift to myself was a trip to Columbus, OH to see DT perform a one off headlining show during their summer tour with Iron Maiden (and good thing I did).

What happened Wednesday was more than just the end of a chapter in Dream Theater. It was a wake up call that what I considered a unpopular passion being far more than I ever realized. I never felt that Dream Theater was popular. It was an edge taste that I shared with many of the geeks of the world. Dream Theater is a geeks band for sure. Musicians loved them, but so did the geeks of the world. I can't tell you how many times I would be chatting with a programmer or gamer and they would share my taste in Dream Theater. Just in the Notes community, fans include Bruce, Nathan, Chris B, Chris W, Jess, Ben Poole and many more. But talk to other friends - and they were like 'who is Dream Theater? - why don't you want to go see [random pop band that is popular right now but really sucks ass]?'

Not that my musical tastes are dictated by other's not liking or knowing the band I am listening too ... but there was some allure that Dream Theater was MY band. I saw them in the small club in Chicago when they filmed the "Pull Me Under" video. Seeing them play love almost 30 times. Knowing every easter egg in the music and packaging. Interacting with the band on-line and in person. Was it strange? probably - but it was me.

It was great to see the band gain success over the years. But when they opened for Iron Maiden this summer - it was obvious that their success was bigger than I ever realized. Yes, they were the opening band. But I saw more Dream Theater tshirts than I saw Iron Maiden ones in the audience. What made that even more incredible is that DT only sold 4 shirts at each show and Maiden sold 20!.

In the wake of Mike making his announcement, what shocked me where I saw the news. For instance, here is the Worldwide trend list on Twitter yesterday around noon:

Image:When your unpopular tastes become mainstream and how people react to you

2 of the top 10 trends are about this news. My reaction was totally WTF! Who else out there really cares about this? But I had people send me notes and IM's asking me if I was ok? When your family asks about this - who don't use social networking AT ALL ... um yeah.

So while I am sad about what happened with Mike and DT, this was more a personal reflection. I have lots of OCD traits and maybe it's time I let go a bit. Can I just be a fan of something and not invest so much? Do I really want to be one of those people you see on the TV when an actor or musician died? For the record - no tears, nothing on that level this week. I think my reaction was mostly a mouth agape for a long time. Shock. And an excitement on what Dream Theater and Mike both do next. Sometimes a major change is needed in life to cut the safety cords and really try something new. Sorry for the ramble but for me, writing this feels like the right way to put these reactions to rest.