by Ethan Swan


Wed Dec 10

Crystal Ballroom

If you're A fan, singing along with a live band is a combination of two impulses--sharing in the event, and demonstrating an intimacy with the song. When an entire audience is participating, it can feel inspiring, transfixing, or imposing. Bands love it, fans love it, people who are excluded do not. In the context of Trapt's unavoidable single, "Headstrong," those excluded are unsympathetic strangers, pushy bosses, and yelling parents. Most people can identify with such torment, and Trapt's battle cry to "take on anyone" must resonate quite deeply for the ones who feel left out by today's landscape of Nelly and Justin Timberlake.

Therefore it's quite a mean trick that their record label, Warner Brothers, is playing with Trapt--taunting those outsiders with the obvious artifice of bling-bling and choreographed dance moves, and then offering them an "authentic" alternative. No midriffs, no gold fronts, Trapt are just like me or you; they love music, worked hard, and made it. No glitz, no media hype, just righteous attitude and solid tunes. And how can you tell? The fans. In the video for "Headstrong," a swarm of distraught teens clench their fists and declare their obstinacy alongside the band--a hundred mouths lip-synching "I know that you are wrong!" Good thing no one asks where these ardent fans come from.

This all works out for Warner, who have successfully constructed an image of dissatisfaction--$200 at the mall and it's all yours. Certainly nothing new, but the sophistication of this co-optation is really quite staggering. Thanks to constant circulation on MTV, every night that Trapt plays "Headstrong" they're guaranteed to have a houseful of backing vocalists. But for the audience, the choice is gone--as a fan you're either in or out. You can participate or you can be cut off like the parents and bosses. If you're really good, maybe the talent agency that Warner uses to fill their videos with impassioned youth may choose you for the next one.