FT5: Indie Rock African Americans

This is a serious subject, and one I don’t plan to take very lightly.  As I’ve attended several shows recently, even small local ones, I began to look at the racial dynamic in the Austin music scene.  Oddly, one giant sore thumb sticks out: the lack of African-American attendees at these shows.   This is probably the same way in every city across the land, and I tend to think it’s quite unfortunate.  I’m not here to debate how to solve the problem, if you deem this a problem, but rather to honor my Top Five African-American participants in the realm of indie rock.   This is just my opinion, but I immediately banned the guy from Bloc Party because he put out two bad records and continues to make bad electronica music.


5. Damian Edwards of Crystal Antlers

Okay, so this guy really isn’t the main component of the group, but if you’ve ever seen Crystal Antlers live, then you should be well aware of Damian and his antics.  The guy dances around in front of his percussion duties, twirling his sticks, shaking his fists, and all while making air-tight decisions in his playing.  Not to mention he plays various types of drums and instruments I can’t even name.  I love watching this band, if, and only if I can stand in front of Damian as he works his magic.


4. J. Clark of Pretty Girls Make Graves

I absolutely loved J. Clark.  In fact, I loved his entire band with great passion, which is why I’m a little bit saddened that J left his spot in Jaguar Love to pursue other interests.  He had flair and passion, and yet he rocked the intellectual punk look with his black-rimmed glasses. If it weren’t for his recent disappearance from the national scene, he would be much higher on this list, as he helped make Jaguar Love, and his participation with PGMG helped launch the band to national prominence.


3. Dev Hynes of Lightspeed Champion

I really wasn’t too fond of Dev’s work when he was a memeber of Test Icicles.  But, he soon went off on his own to create Lightspeed Champion.  Man, what can I say about those beautiful pop opuses he constructs whilst donning those clever little hats.  He’s got a flair for artistry, and if you’ve followed him, you know he’s into philanthropy too boot.  Every time I hear something about him, I just know it’s going to be good, so that’s why we’ve got Dev right in the middle of our charts.


2. Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio

I know most of you are probably thinking that Tunde belongs in this spot, as he’s the proclaimed leader of the band, but there are several reasons why you’re wrong.  First, Kyp’s beard is one of the best, and clearly wins him awards in my heart.  Second, Kyp has his own project Rain Machine, not to mention his work last year with Iran, which was absolutely incredible if you ask me.  He seems more devoted to music than his counterpart, and that sort of dedication earned him a spot on our list.


1. Murray Lightburn of The Dears

It’s clear to me that Murray deserves this spot.  For years, he’s been dubbed as the black Morrissey, which may or may not be fair, but since he’s been given that title, it’s only fair that he hold the top spot.  You can add to that his power to command a crowd’s attention, and hold onto it throughout the entirety of a set.  His incredible performances have won him fans all over the globe, and his records with the band aren’t too shabby either.  In fact, they’re ridiculously good, and some of the most timeless music being created right now, at least in my mind.  I wish Murray many more years of great records and good shows.


So, I can’t explain why there are so few African-Americans in the indie music scene, but I can tell you that these five, in my mind, are the absolute best at what they do.  I know I’ve left off a few from the past, but I wanted to keep this a bit more modern.  Feel free to drop us a line and tell us your thoughts, or tell us who we left off.  And if you say the guy from Bloc Party, I will pay someone to follow you around 24/7 for the next year playing nothing but their last album, Intimacy.



    It is a shame. Music scenes in general seem to close themselves off fairly well on a racial or cultural basis. I think it has as much to do with the easy fragmentation we’ve grown accustomed to as anything, and not necessarily just on the basis of color.

    You like this band? most times you’ll look / think / dress / speak a certain way to fit in. You hit up another show across town? get stared at. Can’t we all just get along? Don’t make me wear those jeans, they look uncomfortable. And I can’t wear converse, i need the arch support.

  • Im black and i love indie rock and go to concerts.. and I see a couple other black people at them too

  • this kind of crap will go away with time…

    You know somewhere there has to be at least one middle-eastern born hardcore Hank Williams Sr. fan writing some ol’ school country swing/blues

    unfortunately racial is still pretty lame. I definitely fall in the southern straight male brownie that loves morrissey bracket and I honestly never really think about it until articles like this pop up, which is not bad.

    the whole race thing in music is getting better in the fact that younger generations are caring less and less about race and it’s stereotypical associations with artistic genres.

  • It’s good to see some bands I like up here specifically TV on the Radio and that in America music genres seem to be just about making music regardless of race. however in the UK it seems like were going backwards are only well known black Indie artist was Kele Orkereke from Bloc Party but as noted above they’ve moved away from rock and eventually split up. the sad thing is now in the UK the large majority of Black UK musicians are people like Tiny Tempah,N dubz, Alexandra Burke etc and even though i don’t strongly like their music my issue is that there simply doesn’t seem to be variety. So much so that a black person doing rock would seem weird and that becuase of this the stereotyping of all blacks can do this rap and R & B in the UK.

  • this list need ladies!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *