During this part of the year, your humble narrator treks from school to schools selling contest music to bands and orchestras. It's a good gig, and it enables us to get a good gander at what the next generation of musicians look like.
However, after several years of doing it, we started noticing a weird trend. The band T-shirts we see adorning the torsos of today's high schoolers are the same band T-shirts that were worn by yesterday's high schoolers.
When Rocks Off was kicking around Galena Park High School looking sad and worshipping Satan in the 90s, we sported shirts celebrating R.E.M., Marilyn Manson, Nirvana and Texas ska bands like Spies Like Us. This was the music of the time period, the new shit.
What we saw this fall was an endless parade of bands who reached their peak before the millennium. In several cases, kids were wearing shirts of bands that broke up before the wearers were even born.
Don't get us wrong. It's not that modern acts were completely absent. My Chemical Romance stared sullenly out at us from the chests of several sofphomores. Paramore gets some love, and The Sword is clearly moving merch, but all these bands combined would still be outnumbered two to one by Journey shirts.
Out of the 30 schools we visited this season, at least one person at each sported an Iron Maiden rag. We saw Def Leppard and Led Zeppelin at half of them, Motley Crue and Aerosmith at a third.
One one hand, it's nice to see the acts that were ruling MTV when we were just a child being babysat by the idiot box while the proper caretaker was screwing her boyfriend in the next room have not been forgotten.
On the other, though... these bands are not the future, whereas the students wearing them are. They're musicians, but their fingers do not seem to be anywhere near the pulse of tomorrow's music scene or even their own current generation.
To judge by apparel alone, the vast majority of musical youth is engaged in looking backwards, rather than forwards.
"I just don't like any new stuff," a girl at Mayde Creek High School told us.
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"Why?" we asked.
She just shrugged.
Rocks Off doesn't think this bodes well for the state of music in the next decade.
Jef With One F is the author of The Bible Spelled Backwards Does Not Change the Fact That You Cannot Kill David Arquette and Other Things I Learned In the Black Math Experiment, available now.