Popcon

5
May 17

They Ask Me What The Use Is: Pop Conference 2017

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image1 Last year’s Seattle Pop Conference, on Voice, was an epiphanic experience for me, reviving a part of me that had become burnt out since I stopped writing regularly about current music. Like most epiphanies it was almost traumatic – I staggered around for a while afterwards trying to reconcile the critical self PopCon spoke to and the reality of the rest of my life and career. The critic’s life, these days, is often grim and precarious – Pop Conference overturns that, offering an opportunity to celebrate and indulge everything you might want it to be. As someone who’d stepped away from that life in a professional sense, I feel a little like a guilty interloper going there, at the same time as the event energises me and makes me feel so welcome and at home.

Of course I was going back, though. And you can’t have the same epiphany twice – this year I realised what Pop Conference reminded me of was Glastonbury. OK, a Glastonbury where all you have to brave is jetlag, not rivers of mud and piss, and stumbling on the best DJ in the world in the healing fields at 4AM is replaced by catching a presentation about a drag king One Direction tribute act in the quiet of Sunday morning. But something just as surprising and nourishing, if a bit kinder to my mid-40s constitution.