Musically, there is an ongoing competition amongst Second Life indie DJs to see who can play the newest stuff, or the best stuff, and even the longest stuff. In the fall of 2009, one DJ played for 26 straight hours without repeating a song. It was advertised as a charity fundraiser, but his now permanent hold on the longest straight time DJing in-world was the most discussed aspect of the stunt.
For the most part, the Internet makes it easy to find and market to the trendsetting indie demographic (just ask Mountain Dew and their Green Label, Toyota Scion at SXSW, or any record label who has ever bought an ad on Pitchfork). But in Second Life’s secret indie rock communities, there are no advertisers. The DJs are music lovers with no affiliations to labels or access to publicists. One DJ, whose avatar name is Oliver Wickentower, said, “In my ‘real’ life I’m the music guru to a lot of my friends. It’s cool that I can turn them on to music I like, but they rarely have anything to offer me. Music blogs are cool but the indie scene in Second Life is like an interactive music blog.”
So, now that you know they’re out there, where can you go to find these mavens of Second Life indie? We offer a club-by-club guide to the American indie scene so that you might pop into a place with the correct level of snobbery and eclecticism to suit you.
The Crow’s Foot — RIYL: Wilco, Black Lips, anything lo-fi
The place was opened by a longtime DJ and bearded avatar who looks a little like Jesus named Woodrow Stapleton. About building his club, he says, “I’m a big fan of vintage [so] I kind of went for a cross between a VFW hall and a hunting lodge.” And while he says anyone who wants to can DJ there, most of the regular DJs find the construction of their sets influenced by the Elks Lodge look of the place and gravitate towards dropping Flaming Lips and Girls tracks. It is perhaps the best place to get high and play SL.
The Velvet — RIYL: Big Star, Sleigh Bells, anything remixed by Fred Falke
Going to the Velvet is jumping off the deep end into the land of indie-snob smart asses. The DJs play whatever is brand new or incredibly obscure or both. It is the longest running indie club in SL, dating back to 2006, and the one where you are most likely to get snubbed for not getting the references. It is designed to look like the inside of a Replacements song circa 1983.
Mixtape @ Viceland — RIYL: Four Tet, Belle & Sebastian, JPop
There aren’t many DJs at Mixtape, because you have to be pretty impressive to be invited to take a regular slot. Proprieter Kasabian Beck specifically goes out looking for the weird and new, cramming everything into a small space so it always feels unique and intimate. It is best summed up by Beck himself: “I’ve always hated the idea that people say ‘I come to [Second Life] to get away from RL [real life]’. Well, that’s total bullshit because here, just like in RL, there are assholes you don’t like, conversations you don’t want to hear, and people dressed funny.” If you get dressed up funny late on a Saturday night, you can find indie rock karaoke here.
Bombay (b)Indie — RIYL: Neko Case, Smashing Pumpkins, New Pornographers
They skew a little older and a little more West Coast at Bombay. They want to be nice to you and play you KEXP-approved music, making themselves the Stereogum of SL indie. Everyone wants something different on the Internet, and those who skip reading blog comments because they think the trolls are too mean will enjoy Bombay the most.
Alt7 — RIYL: Coldplay, Oasis, Snow Patrol
Always the “indie” club with the most traffic and the most boring music. They have a ton of DJs playing at all hours, which keeps a lot of people coming through. They also play the most mainstream, uncool music. It is probably not even a cool enough joint for Zach Braff to start his career as an avatar there.
Click through below for a gallery of indie-rock images from Second Life.
An avatar in Second Life created in the image of The Cure's Robert Smith
Barcelona-based rock band engrama playing a live show at the Antigone Theater in the Viceland sim of Second Life
Arial view of the Viceland sim and its builder, Kasabian Beck
Inside the Mixtape indie club on Viceland with avatar Gwendolyn Weston
Muse-esque avatar Paradox Messmer at the Velvet
The author's avatar, Astrud Sands
In the popular hipster shopping strip mall The Starlust Motel with avatar Davey MacIntyre
The Bombay (b)Indie club with an avatar who looks a lot like the drummer of the Black Keys
A message from Second Life