Jet-legged and sleep-deprived, student describes his culture shock abroad
Alex Wilking: Navigating the city of fog — London noise
Pink and green mohawks are rampant in Camden Town. I found myself personally drawn to this area of London. It is a short walk from campus and brimming with
different music genres. Most noteworthy of those styles is the town’s remaining ties to the punk scene. Concert venues and general attempts at being edgy fuel the hair-brained craze. The culture is remnant of The Sex Pistols, a UK band credited with starting the punk-rock movement in the 1970s. Coupled with the men-with-flyers tourism strategy in the area, it’s an interesting clash.
Camden is known to foster a large music culture in London. I haven’t witnessed other genres besides rock and metal, but it’s all supposed to be there. Touring bands will often play at venues like KOKO to large crowds of black T-shirts. Most bands that tour the UK hit London and skip over smaller cities, so many travel to mohawk-central just for the occasion. I met a group that traveled about two hours from Cambridge just to see a band called Architects.
Camden Town suits mainly non-hip artists, so popular musicians aren’t really welcome. Bigger artists just hop over to Greenwich to play the O2 area. This is a massive stadium for large shows like Justin Timberlake, Miley Cyrus and the Sundance Festival. This makes the area a sought-after destination for students looking for a British concert experience similar to one in the States. Taylor Swift was in town early February and it seemed like half of Regents’ College flocked to see her. Sure, most of it’s American pop music, but you only London once.
If you’re a student and can’t afford to go to every concert that comes through, don’t fret — music lives on the streets of London. Guitar duos can be heard soloing in the Underground station walkways, while bagpipe players set up next to bridges in hopes of swooning a crowd. But perhaps the most noteworthy musician is a man in Covent Garden, who somehow plays a traffic cone as a trumpet. He’s always on the same street corner and is borderline YouTube-famous.
This city is a stew of music and culture from all over the world. Theater musicals, countless street performers and a melting pot of live bands will make sure you hear something worth telling the internet about. I can’t quite touch on every musical aspect that London has to offer in a small column, but I’ve sure broadened my understanding of multi-colored haircuts and underground music more than most study-abroads would expect to.