What popular things were you into or aware of WAY before everyone else?

It’s the ultimate hipster coup - being into something on the ground floor, knowing about it before everyone else. Everyone loves to claim that they were into things before anyone else, but what were you really into, or at least aware of, before anyone else knew about it?


Sufjan Stevens - I’m not a fan of the guy, but I’ve been aware of him since before his very first record came out, around 1999 or so. He was touring with the Danielson Famile as their replacement keyboardist, and opening up with a solo set of his stuff before he even had a record available. It’s still weird to me how popular he’s become, having long since eclipsed Danielson’s fame, because I still think of him as “Danielson’s backup keyboard player” playing to 20 people in a church.

the Animal Collective - way back in 2000, I was working at a college radio station and was in charge of managing our music collection. I had a small fund (created by selling crappy CD’s we got for free to the local used CD store) that I could use to buy records that we weren’t able to get for free through our usual channels. While surfing the Other Music Website for cool new stuff, I saw a CD by “Avey Tare and Panda Bear” called “Spirit they’ve vanished, spirit they’re gone.” It was described as “Mercury Rev as produced by Merzbow,” and frankly, that description was enough to sell me on it. It turned out to be majorly loved at our station, and we played it to death. Seven years later, they’re one of the biggest bands in indie rock.

I’m usually way behind on trends, but I was ahead of the curve on the swing music revival in the 1990s.

Well, I’m perpetually convinced that six months from “now,” whatever I’m wearing/watching/listening to is going to be “what the cool kids are into.” Does that count? :slight_smile:

(Hey, it could happen. What? You’re telling me that fake blonde hair and holey, beat-up Skechers aren’t the Next Big Thing? Bah, next you’ll be telling me that I’m just “uncool.”)

Not entirely sure if this counts, but…
In 1974 in Junior High I was looking for something to read and picked up a new-release hardback named Carrie. Author I’d never heard of before, Stephen King. Quite a good read, very engrossing. I hope he writes something else, I would read more of his stuff if he did.

I saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers do a free show (in Buffalo, NY) about six months before they broke out with “Higher Ground.”

I saw Nirvana in NYC"s Pyramid Club about a year before they became MTV darlings. (I thought they were terrible live.)

Those are my two big ‘before anyone else heard of them’ stories.

I’m not proud, but I did see No Doubt a long time before they made it big. I remember Gwen Stefani saying, “Do you guys even know who we are?”

The crowd booed and said, “No!!!”

If “everyone else” is limtted to my peer group, then:

chuck taylors – I got a pair of chuck taylors in first grade (80-81) – the first shoe I ever requested. This is well before any of my friends wore them. and it’s not like I was copying older siblings (I don’t have any). I saw them in an old tv show and thought they were cool. They were cheap and we were poor. They beat wearing bobos.

My soul got psychedelicized at the exact same moment everybody else’s did. So, no.

I saw “Bill Martin” in concert long before he was Billy Joel. I thought he would either sink or become a superstar.

My SIL saw Garth Brooks in some sleazy club. She went because she thought he had a cool name.

I saw Avenue Q in previews way off-Broadway. The theatre was about 25% full with friends & families of the cast. I e-mailed everyone that “you have to see this show.”

I bought the latest Spoon album (recommend it) about a week before the radio station started playing their song “The Underdog.” So, not **WAY ** before.

I’m not usually the leader, but I may be one of the first followers.

Growing up in Madison, I read The Onion back when it was an 8 page b&w paper. Thought it was the funniest thing ever.

Whoa I was there, too. You weren’t the guy in the t-shirt were you?

A couple years ago, when the Pixies were on tour, a friend of mine bought two tickets to the Toronto show for (I think) $80 online. I commented that the last time I’d seen the Pixies, I paid $11 to get in, and I bitched about that.

I was a big Pink Floyd fan (and saw them live, where they were being billed as “the Pink Floyd”) long before “Dark Side of the Moon” (which I bought the first week it was released). I was actually a bit disappointed with the album, since it was somewhat less adventurous than “Meddle” and “Atom Heart Mother.”

I became a fan of Bruce Sprinsteen when I reviewed his first album for our college radio station. Saw him live when he couldn’t fill thousand-seat venues.


Jane’s Addiction used to play in small venues at U of I C/U back in the late '80s. They were my instant favorite and it was tremendous to see them perform in small clubs!

Let’s see…
I bought my first Mac in 1985 and have used them all thought their periods of in and out of fashion since then.
I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark as a preview, two weeks before it opened nationally.
Same thing with The Crow.
I played D&D the first year it was introduced.
Other than that, I’ve got nothin…

Yeah, I’ve been a jazz/blues fan for most of my life, so I ended up way ahead of the curve by default. I remember when that Jump, Jive & Wail Gap commercial first aired around 10 years ago, a friend wondered aloud what that music was, and I was able to go directly to my CD collection pull out my Louis Prima CD to play the entire thing for him.

The only other thing I can think of was that I was also into The Barenaked Ladies back in the late 1980s when they were still just a duo touring the college bar circuit.

One of my University dorm floor-mates had gone to highschool with Ed Robertson, co-founder along with Stephen Page, and Ed stopped by to crash on his floor for a couple of nights while he did a couple of weekend gigs at the school. I went to see them play at the school pub in an audience of about 2 dozen people. They were rough around the edges but they had a lot of talent, especially for improvisation.

Ed hung around most of the weekend and turned out to be a pretty good guy with a sharp sense of humour who never, EVER went anywhere without his guitar. He gave me one of their demos on cassette which I played for everybody I could and I deeply regret having lost it in one of my post-graduation moves.

Back in the day, I bought tickets to a Beach Boys concert, not just to see them but also the opening act…Billy Joel.

Naturally I was disappointed when it was announced at the concert that the opening act had changed…disappointed, that is, until I heard **Heart **play.

Not so much ‘way before everyone else’ but doing retro or new things one or two years before it made the front page of The Times (or any paper that has the word ‘Times’ in masthead). Or before it became a natural conversation topic during dinner with my family and friends.

Fountain pens - Practiced calligraphy as a kid and so was used to fountain pens and all sorts of specialized writing instruments before they became such hot items in Mont Blanc and Levenger catalogs.

Home PCs - Interested in computers since our second grade class got one of the first Apple IIe systems. As a result, I was assembling systems before Maximum PC Magazine published its first issue. (Or maybe it was right after that.)

Dot.com stuff - Not the first ever, but one of the early adopters of online services. My E-trade and Amazon accounts are almost close to fifteen years old. I purchased the Opera Browser when it could still fit on a floppy disk (that was one of its selling points).

GAP clothing - Before it opened up a slew of Old Navy and Banana Republic stores (like the one in Tokyo), I thought their khakis were the best invention. Ever. (This was before it became de facto dot.com wear.) I like their T-shirts, too, but I see that Sharon Stone beat me on that one.*

(*Apparently, Stone set a fashion trend by wearing a Gap T-shirt to the Academy Awards.)

Gazillionaire - I’m still banging my head against the wall for this one. I was one of the beta testers. Believe or not, the programmer visited my place and installed the game on my computer. Wish I had the sense (and hindsight) to say, “Hey, want an investor?” Then I could have at least had a story to tell my grandkids of how I had some marginal participation in the Good Ol’ Tech Days of the Nineties. (My family and friends love that game.)

I enjoyed both Patti Smith’s and the Talking Heads’s debut albums even when they debuted.

I was queer long before it was cool, if that counts.