Walking through SunFest, there are graffiti artists, electric guitars made from skateboards and giant art installations in between stages creating an environment where concert-goers can be themselves. But the most interesting sights are the people themselves and their seemingly telltale clothes.
With bands covering all genres from pop punk and rap to EDM and blues, the SunFest scene brings in an incredibly polarized crowd. And to a degree, you could look at some people and tell who they came to see.
But, the relationship between music and fashion isn’t just a curious observation. According to a study published in 2012, “When a certain type of music is trendy, we see the popularity in the corresponding fashion industry also increasing … fashion conveys sensibility from music and we could identify similar sensibilities between the two.”
Using ballad, dance, hip-hop and rock as genres, researchers found that people who are the most interested in music and fashion adhere to a “style” more whereas others with less interest don’t fall into a specific – sometimes stereotypical – category.
But that doesn’t mean it’s always as dramatic.
Night Ranger, a hard rock band big in the 80s, had an audience of mostly shirtless beer-holding balding men and bandana-wearing bikers up front, what you’d expect. But they also had middle-aged, cargo shorts-wearing moms and dads air guitaring, and even a 24 year old with a pirate hat and purple mutton-chops.
Breaking Benjamin had their pit full of stereotypically black-clothed, multicolor-haired teens, but there was also their share of 30 year olds, a grey haired, clean-shaved 65 year old biker and a tween, pink-haired girl with a nirvana shirt on her cargo shorts wearing dad.
Chris, about 22 years old, wearing ripped up jeans and a black tank-top sat behind the Saturday night crowd at Tori Kelly, a pop music set, observing. He noticed a difference in style from night to night saying, “Last night was all thuggish and wild. Tonight is mostly girls and older people. Last night it was mostly guys,” with the night before’s artists including Flo Rida, Ziggy Marley and Fetty Wap feat Monty.
But in the back of the Meresha show, a mostly pop with a little soft rap band, was Jay Alarcon. Having dreads, a Bob Marley backpack, red gold and green beads in his hair and a black golden lion shirt, I asked if he thought music affected the way he dressed. He shook his dreaded hair and with a confident shrug said no.
The stereotypically reggae dressed listener said he wasn’t affected, and the ripped jeans and black shirt one outside the pop concert saying, “Not me no, I wear this all the time,” said it affected others. Some people’s opinions contradicted themselves, and their clothes, but others tried to think what may cause some to be more affected than others.
Wearing bright LED shoes, glow bracelets and a jean jacket before Marshmello’s set, Cabri Sunday said, “The older ones aren’t as affected by that,” referencing being influenced by the music.
Some think the culture around the music drives it more than the music itself.
Like Alli Reyes, wearing flowers in her hair and a red spaghetti strap top waiting for Wavves to start, “I think the music definitely plays a role [in influencing style], but it’s more the culture than the music.”
Others say it’s the artist themselves, not the music, “Yeah, with a lot of people it’s the artist, they wear bright pants, ripped jeans, people wear the same,” said Iria Rivera-Nieves waiting for Meresha.
But David Luckee, a 25 year old donning a black, skull covered T-shirt, a black hat, a big red beard and a septum piercing — waiting outside Blink-182’s stage, explained the stereotypical style as a marketing ploy for more impressionable listeners. “They sell a style,” said Luckee.
“We’ve [older listeners] already figured out who we are. The younger ones are more influenced, they just copy the styles of the artists or the culture around it.”
Him and his two other friends dressed the way you’d expect for a Blink-182 concert, plaid short shorts, bikini top, piercings, black skinny jeans. Fully aware they were dressing into a stereotype. While in the crowd was also a 50 year old couple in cargo shorts, that were also trying to find a light for their hash pipe.
Looking around at the set as Saturday went on, EDM producer Marshmello played for a crowd clothed in mostly crop tops, bikini tops and neon. Alongside them were girls in frilly dresses jumping to Marshmello’s chest-stomping electric light-show and students in billowing crop tops too.
People had opinions that you wouldn’t assume from their clothes at every set, neon clothed Marilyn Manson fans, and cargo shorts and dad shoes Meresha listeners.
Music affects everyone’s style, clothes and even personality to some point, just looking around you can tell. But to different degrees, be it being able to afford the clothes like Rose Ryan who looked like a flower child at an Evanesense concert, or just being older and knowing who you are, like David. So you never know who’s affected how much by their music, that 60-year-old guy in dad shoes might be rocking out to Breaking Benjamin or Tori Kelly in his car and just not be able to find the frilly dress in his size or afford the pitch-black skinny jeans