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Wish You Were Here: An Essential Guide to Your Favorite Music Scenes—from Punk to Indie and Everything in Between

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A snarky, fact-filled look at the people and places that made the indie/punk scene what it is today The American underground music scene is exploding everywhere—not just in New York City and L.A. (although we've got those cities covered too!): In Washington, D.C. . . . Ian MacKaye and Fugazi inspired the straightedge culture, which had kids everywhere drawing black X's on th A snarky, fact-filled look at the people and places that made the indie/punk scene what it is today The American underground music scene is exploding everywhere—not just in New York City and L.A. (although we've got those cities covered too!): In Washington, D.C. . . . Ian MacKaye and Fugazi inspired the straightedge culture, which had kids everywhere drawing black X's on their hands in magic marker. In Omaha, Nebraska . . . A young Conor Oberst, aka Bright Eyes, started writing and performing gut-wrenching love songs at the tender age of thirteen. On Long Island, New York . . . Taking Back Sunday and Brand New battled for emo supremacy and the fragile hearts of a million teenage girls. From the coauthor of the cult-worthy Everybody Hurts: An Essential Guide to Emo Culture comes Wish You Were Here—a combination travel guide and tortured history covering everything from what constitutes proper rock critic etiquette in Minneapolis to why pop-punk bands in Chicago have so much suburban angst, to how freegans in the Bay Area can feed themselves on a budget that would make frugal Rachael Ray's face blush.


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A snarky, fact-filled look at the people and places that made the indie/punk scene what it is today The American underground music scene is exploding everywhere—not just in New York City and L.A. (although we've got those cities covered too!): In Washington, D.C. . . . Ian MacKaye and Fugazi inspired the straightedge culture, which had kids everywhere drawing black X's on th A snarky, fact-filled look at the people and places that made the indie/punk scene what it is today The American underground music scene is exploding everywhere—not just in New York City and L.A. (although we've got those cities covered too!): In Washington, D.C. . . . Ian MacKaye and Fugazi inspired the straightedge culture, which had kids everywhere drawing black X's on their hands in magic marker. In Omaha, Nebraska . . . A young Conor Oberst, aka Bright Eyes, started writing and performing gut-wrenching love songs at the tender age of thirteen. On Long Island, New York . . . Taking Back Sunday and Brand New battled for emo supremacy and the fragile hearts of a million teenage girls. From the coauthor of the cult-worthy Everybody Hurts: An Essential Guide to Emo Culture comes Wish You Were Here—a combination travel guide and tortured history covering everything from what constitutes proper rock critic etiquette in Minneapolis to why pop-punk bands in Chicago have so much suburban angst, to how freegans in the Bay Area can feed themselves on a budget that would make frugal Rachael Ray's face blush.

30 review for Wish You Were Here: An Essential Guide to Your Favorite Music Scenes—from Punk to Indie and Everything in Between

  1. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    You know those episodes of The Simpsons where Lisa meets a smart-and-sassy-but-super-cool older girl and wants desperately to be her friend? Reading this book was like listening to the dialogue the writers give to these characters, or maybe like reading their LiveJournals. It's all snark, parenthetical asides, and carefully made casual name drops in the hopes of establishing cred. Don't read it expecting to learn much about the actual music that makes or made regional scenes. It's more about maki You know those episodes of The Simpsons where Lisa meets a smart-and-sassy-but-super-cool older girl and wants desperately to be her friend? Reading this book was like listening to the dialogue the writers give to these characters, or maybe like reading their LiveJournals. It's all snark, parenthetical asides, and carefully made casual name drops in the hopes of establishing cred. Don't read it expecting to learn much about the actual music that makes or made regional scenes. It's more about making fun of the people behind the music, and those who enjoy it. Many of the histories are incomplete (Lawrence, Kansas apparently never had any bands until Boys Life showed up--you can say what you want about the likes of Paw, but they drew attention to this town way before the Get Up Kids did) or glossed over (nothing has happened in Seattle since grunge, apparently, but there sure are plenty of hipsters to make fun of). I realize I'm not in the target demographic for this book, but to call it "essential" is a stretch. Music writers like Michael Azerrad are more thorough and passionate about their subjects and much better reads.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Useful information from a different generation on indie rock and the emo genre. The writing is a bit snarky for me, but the highlighted bands makes reading easy. Recommended for millennials interested in indie rock scenes around the country.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sean

    Skimmed this since I checked it out from the library. Not sure what to make of the fact that Austin is not mentioned, nor is the whole Bloodshot/Hideout/Insurgent Country Chicago scene. Mabye that's a good thing because if a scene is in here, it will be mocked. Nice illustrations though. Skimmed this since I checked it out from the library. Not sure what to make of the fact that Austin is not mentioned, nor is the whole Bloodshot/Hideout/Insurgent Country Chicago scene. Mabye that's a good thing because if a scene is in here, it will be mocked. Nice illustrations though.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Vicente Ribes

    Muy divertido y me ha hecho descubrir nuevos grupos que no conocía y recordar algunos que hace tiempo que no escuchaba. Cada capítulo está dedicado a una zona geográfica de EEUU y los diferentes movimientos musicales que salen de las mismas. El toque diferente lo pone el humor con lo que está todo tratado y la descripción desternillante que hace de algunas tribus urbanas. Viene con una guia de lugares a visitar si estas interesado en las bandas que aparecen en el libro.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    Book not meant to stand the test of time although I think I would have been equally annoyed with it in 2009. “Snark” that demeans other woman based on talent and body. If you’re curious about any of these music scenes, literally just ask any of your musically inclined friends, they will know all of this and more.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jameson Ketchum

    A great travel companion! (though Leslie says its not a travel guide) and a great companion to her first book! Great tips, great snark.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Taylor Wallace

    The snark here is distracting. What is the author trying to prove with it? It's like reading the blog of a too-cool-for-you (but actually just super insecure) high school girl. Bleck. The snark here is distracting. What is the author trying to prove with it? It's like reading the blog of a too-cool-for-you (but actually just super insecure) high school girl. Bleck.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Harris

    I'm not really sure why I read this informally written book (okay, it was because it mentions the Twin Cities) but I have been on a pop music kick lately, attempting to rectify my appalling ignorance about it. Gotta keep that edge as I get older, you know! I'm not sure how much I really learned from this amusing bit of snarky fluff, but it was a quick and fun read, and I might have gotten to know the stereotypes of the various "scenes" across the country. Leslie Simon writes with a very personab I'm not really sure why I read this informally written book (okay, it was because it mentions the Twin Cities) but I have been on a pop music kick lately, attempting to rectify my appalling ignorance about it. Gotta keep that edge as I get older, you know! I'm not sure how much I really learned from this amusing bit of snarky fluff, but it was a quick and fun read, and I might have gotten to know the stereotypes of the various "scenes" across the country. Leslie Simon writes with a very personable, casual voice, though she may come off a bit facetious at times. The entries are not serious explorations of the evolution of independent music in the US, but really just funny lists and "factoids" about the punk, emo, and alt bands, bars, and record shops of Seattle, Long Island, suburban Florida, and even Omaha (among other places). At worst, they are superficial. Still, I found some interesting bands to check out. Hardly comprehensive, but fun.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Marjanne

    This is a review of local music scenes in several cities. You've probably heard of some of these bands and some probably not. I had a difficult time relating to this book (hence the 2 star rating), but I think this was mostly because I'm just not that into being a 'scenester'. I like music, but I'm not planning on committing my life to following my favorite local band or dedicating my time and money to such pursuits. I guess I'm too old. Anyhow, for me, most of the info is fairly trivial. I prob This is a review of local music scenes in several cities. You've probably heard of some of these bands and some probably not. I had a difficult time relating to this book (hence the 2 star rating), but I think this was mostly because I'm just not that into being a 'scenester'. I like music, but I'm not planning on committing my life to following my favorite local band or dedicating my time and money to such pursuits. I guess I'm too old. Anyhow, for me, most of the info is fairly trivial. I probably won't remember much of it and I pretty much don't care. However, I was able to add some bands to my list of music to check out. My biggest complaint with this book has to be the footnote. Now I don't mind footnotes, but you should be able to see the footnote markings in the text. They were nearly impossible to see in this book, which, in my mind, just makes having footnotes distracting rather than informative aside info.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    I love this book nearly as much as I loved 'Everybody Hurts'. There were so many references to bands I love and listen to, and as I read it, I learnt a whole lot more about the scenes they all came from, and what made their home towns special. I think my favourite chapter was probably the chapter on Long Island, due to the fact it talked so much about Taking Back Sunday / Brand New etc. Leslie Simon has this snarky sense of humour that I just adore, with all her nicely placed footnotes giving inf I love this book nearly as much as I loved 'Everybody Hurts'. There were so many references to bands I love and listen to, and as I read it, I learnt a whole lot more about the scenes they all came from, and what made their home towns special. I think my favourite chapter was probably the chapter on Long Island, due to the fact it talked so much about Taking Back Sunday / Brand New etc. Leslie Simon has this snarky sense of humour that I just adore, with all her nicely placed footnotes giving information or just a little remark she deems appropriate. There's something I just love about her style of writing, because half of the remarks she makes about the scene, everyone is thinking anyway. While she says it's not a travel guide, she's provided me with a few locations I'm adding to my list of places to go when I travel to America.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    I loved reading about the different bands and figuring out what originated where, but I felt a large part of it was really poorly researched. For example, the whole Jenny lewis part was shit and the little picture drawn had absolutely no relevance to the actual album cover it was supposed to be. It was like the artist was too lazy to go and look up the picture so they just freehanded it from memory instead. And a major no-no was the Twin Cities part, which is where I'm from. The author needs to I loved reading about the different bands and figuring out what originated where, but I felt a large part of it was really poorly researched. For example, the whole Jenny lewis part was shit and the little picture drawn had absolutely no relevance to the actual album cover it was supposed to be. It was like the artist was too lazy to go and look up the picture so they just freehanded it from memory instead. And a major no-no was the Twin Cities part, which is where I'm from. The author needs to take a few more trips to the cities because she really has no fucking clue how to have fun here. If she thinks drinking is the only activity, she needs to get a better tour guide and a clue. We have a raving music scene and a lot of really fun, kitcshy, awesome cultural hotspots. I know plenty of people from the cities who don't drink and have a blast every night.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    This book gave me pretty much exactly what I wanted. It's not groundbreaking literature, it's not a definitive guide to the most underground bands or secret of scenes, it was just a really fun, entertaining overview of a handful of different metropolitan areas across the country, the bands the area has spawned, and where the cool spots to check out. It's equal arts music guide and travel guide, with the occasional fun story thrown in to spice things up. If you're a pop punk / emo / indie / punk This book gave me pretty much exactly what I wanted. It's not groundbreaking literature, it's not a definitive guide to the most underground bands or secret of scenes, it was just a really fun, entertaining overview of a handful of different metropolitan areas across the country, the bands the area has spawned, and where the cool spots to check out. It's equal arts music guide and travel guide, with the occasional fun story thrown in to spice things up. If you're a pop punk / emo / indie / punk / etc fan, this is a super fun read, and you might actually learn something about the bands you already love and where they come from.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bree

    I love it, duh. But I had to give it 4 stars because "Everybody Hurts" is my first love and I don't want it to feel as if it's been replaced in my heart. I might have skipped some of the "mapping out" sections because it just made me huff about how I never have enough money to travel. High five for the suburban Florida section. Oh, and my NAME is in the acknowledgments!!! I squealed like a child when I saw that. I heart you, Leslie Simon. I love it, duh. But I had to give it 4 stars because "Everybody Hurts" is my first love and I don't want it to feel as if it's been replaced in my heart. I might have skipped some of the "mapping out" sections because it just made me huff about how I never have enough money to travel. High five for the suburban Florida section. Oh, and my NAME is in the acknowledgments!!! I squealed like a child when I saw that. I heart you, Leslie Simon.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nativeabuse

    I don't know where to start, this just wasn't very good. I picked it up on accident while looking for something else, but I gave it a go anyway. Honestly unless you want a history of early 90s emo bands, and the scenes they came from then don't bother with this because that is literally all they talk about. They also try to be funny about it, but it doesn't work. I don't know where to start, this just wasn't very good. I picked it up on accident while looking for something else, but I gave it a go anyway. Honestly unless you want a history of early 90s emo bands, and the scenes they came from then don't bother with this because that is literally all they talk about. They also try to be funny about it, but it doesn't work.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jenn Estepp

    meh. maybe i'm just too old for this sort of thing. it's super uneven and there's a definite air of trying-to-hard about the snark. but the good chapters definitely made me want to check out some of the name-checked bands and made me semi-nostalgic for my geeky indie rock fan days. meh. maybe i'm just too old for this sort of thing. it's super uneven and there's a definite air of trying-to-hard about the snark. but the good chapters definitely made me want to check out some of the name-checked bands and made me semi-nostalgic for my geeky indie rock fan days.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

    The snarkiness of the writing was cute and funny for the most part. However, if you aren't living near one of the cities mentioned in the book, or you aren't fond of sarcasm, I wouldn't rush out to buy this book. The snarkiness of the writing was cute and funny for the most part. However, if you aren't living near one of the cities mentioned in the book, or you aren't fond of sarcasm, I wouldn't rush out to buy this book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Interesting guidebook, but it leaves out some essentials: how do you mention Minneapolis without mentioning Prince??? The album lists were helpful, though, and I loved the snarky comments. For music fans and those wanting to be only. (Free ARC provided by publisher)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Turi Becker

    Not sure why I read this, really. I should've read Simon's guide to emo culture first, but anyway - this is a city-by-city guide to music scenes, specifically post-punk emo type stuff. I did learn a bit about a few bands I like, but I really don't think I was the intended audience for this... Not sure why I read this, really. I should've read Simon's guide to emo culture first, but anyway - this is a city-by-city guide to music scenes, specifically post-punk emo type stuff. I did learn a bit about a few bands I like, but I really don't think I was the intended audience for this...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dusti

    I didn't learn much new in this book, but the author, formerly of Alternative Press magazine, has a great sense of humor. Waxing nostalgic for my adolescence of Fugazi and Nirvana was an enjoyable break from a much heavier work I'm about to start reading, Columbine. I didn't learn much new in this book, but the author, formerly of Alternative Press magazine, has a great sense of humor. Waxing nostalgic for my adolescence of Fugazi and Nirvana was an enjoyable break from a much heavier work I'm about to start reading, Columbine.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Seriously awesome. If you love guides this book is awesome. If you might want to do a roadtrip in the future this book is exactly where it's at!!! Seriously awesome. If you love guides this book is awesome. If you might want to do a roadtrip in the future this book is exactly where it's at!!!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Terry

    No Detroit. No Hoboken. Way too much snark.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Isak

    This book was not very good.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Imogen

    I'm not gonna lie: I only skimmed the part about the Bay area and ignored the rest. But the whole twenty pages read like they were making fun of me! Nice. Sold! I'm not gonna lie: I only skimmed the part about the Bay area and ignored the rest. But the whole twenty pages read like they were making fun of me! Nice. Sold!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Elliot Chalom

    Worst music-related book I've ever read. Check out my more detailed thoughts over at http://2bitmonkey.wordpress.com/2013/... Worst music-related book I've ever read. Check out my more detailed thoughts over at http://2bitmonkey.wordpress.com/2013/...

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    For those of us hoping to understand 21st century music, its movements/lackthereof, and/or simply make fun of hipsters, HERE IS (perhaps) THE BOOK WE'VE BEEN WAITING FOR. For those of us hoping to understand 21st century music, its movements/lackthereof, and/or simply make fun of hipsters, HERE IS (perhaps) THE BOOK WE'VE BEEN WAITING FOR.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    Don't know that I'd need to buy this book, but I might have to get it from the library again to make a list of the bands mentioned. Simon hits the major scenes and evolutions therein. Don't know that I'd need to buy this book, but I might have to get it from the library again to make a list of the bands mentioned. Simon hits the major scenes and evolutions therein.

  27. 4 out of 5

    emma

    good fun for finding new (or old) punk bands and also learning about rad towns. wanderlust anyone?

  28. 4 out of 5

    n

  29. 5 out of 5

    Paula Mirando

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Walsh

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