There is a spirit of apathy that has existed in Wichita for a very long time. Have you ever heard somebody say, “There’s nothing to do here.” “I’m so bored.” “Nothing interesting ever happens in Wichita.” “If I want to do anything exciting I’d rather go to Kansas City, Denver, or Oklahoma City.”
Trashing Wichita was the normal thing when I was getting involved in the local music and art scene. I don’t know why, but everyone seemed to do it. I guess it was the cool thing to do. It is the main reason why local businesses (including artists and bands) have such a hard time getting the support they need to survive in the beginning.
But semi-recently, within the past 5 ish years, there has been a new wave in Wichita and it started with the local bands and artists. As a band member, I know it is hard getting people to go to your show. It’s like you are trying to convince them that it won’t suck. You have to perceiver through their collective spirit of apathy.
Eventually the bands and artists got tired of trashing their city. “You know, if you don’t like it, change it!” “People who don’t contribute shouldn’t complain.” And this caught on like a breath of fresh air. It restored the pride of local bands and artist. Suddenly people who talked trash on our city are shunned from groups. Like purging toxins from your body, everything felt so much more healthy. Their sense of community was restored.
Wichita artists and bands still remember struggling through that spirit of apathy. They have built a comradery around a mutual struggle. This has created a very strong sense of loyalty to each other. Venues supporting artists and bands. Bands and artists supporting venues. It has even revitalized local businesses to sell merchandise.
Wichita pride and loyalty is the perfect antidote to the spirit of apathy. For the first time, in a long time, there is unity. People are buying the Wichita Flag and waving it proudly for first time in generations. You can see the flag on license plates, T-Shirts, phone cases, stickers on laptops, painted on the side of walls, on display by houses and even public government buildings. This morality boost has also helped local businesses to make the items. One hand washes the other.
It almost feels like nationalism. Except that many races live in Wichita, and all can identify with our flag. (I’m not a white guy waving the Mexican flag.) Pride in your city is not exclusive. It’s all inclusive. So don’t talk shit about Wichita, while in Wichita. You’ll get the same reaction as talking shit on Texas while in Texas. That’s not even an exaggeration. The reaction is so extreme because we all remember what it was like before. Show some god damn respect. Local anything has to work twice has hard to compete with corporate. But then they have to work twice as hard to cut through the spirit of apathy. Barleycorn’s, Rock Island Live, and Elbow Room are all booking bigger bands now (also RiverFest) because we have enough local support to do it. We have all had to overcome this spirit of apathy. We will not be dragged down it again.
I’m not surprised when I’m on facebook and somebody thinks its okay to talk trash a local venue or a local band. I’m just like, “Biiiiiiiitch! They are one of us. Don’t you know Wichita local gotta stick together?!” Wichita has destroyed its own confidence by punishing itself for not being good enough. We are done punishing ourselves. Now that we know who we are and are proud of it, that bullshit won’t be tolerated anymore. If you think that our scene is trash, and yours is soooo much better; well then…