Steeltown scene : genre, performance and identity in the alternative independent music scene in Hamilton, Ontario
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This thesis examines the independent alternative music scene in the city of Hamilton, Ontario, also known, with reference to its industrial heritage, as "Steeltown." Drawing on the growing literature on the relationship between place and popular music, on my own experience as a local musician, direct observation of performances and of venues and other sites of interaction, as well as ethnographic interviews with scene participants, I focus on the role of space, genre and performance within the scene, and their contribution to a sense of local identity. In particular, I argue that the live performance event is essential to the success of the local music scene, as it represents an immediate process, a connection between performers and audience, one which is temporally rooted in the present. My research suggests that the Hamilton alternative music scene has become postmodern, embracing forms of "indie" music that lie outside of mainstream taste, and particularly those which engage in the exploration and deconstruction of pre-existing genres. Eventually, however, the creative successes of an "indiescene" permeate mass culture and often become co-opted into the popular music mainstream, a process which, in turn, promotes new experimentation and innovation at the local level.