My passion for Underoath’s music was cultivated in middle school when I first saw their video of “It’s Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door” at a sleepover with my cousin. I can still feel the goosebumps creeping up my arm and the rush of excitement that ran through me when I first heard Aaron’s haunting choruses and Spencer’s guttural roars. At that time, I didn’t even know there was a such thing as a “Christian hardcore” band; music was just music and if it sounded good I liked it. As I grew older and entered high school, I realized Underoath didn’t just associate themselves as musicians, but as Christians. I, of course, had no problem with this, because I loved their music. However, I realized later on that certain Underoath fans can be quite callous and being anything but a Christian Underoath fan can be quite alienating within certain circles. These of course are exceptions of the rule, but some experiences are still meant to be shared, because ultimately it is a problem that continues still to this day, even though Underoath are no longer together.
In high school, I joined a youth group at the request of my best friend at the time. I wasn’t quite sure whether I wanted to be religious or not, but I decided that I’d never know until I gave it a shot. Also, high school can be quite a rough time, so I figured a youth group would help me emotionally as well as give me the opportunity to form new and positive friendships. It couldn’t hurt, right? It ended up overall being a great experience for me and ultimately lead me to find out who I am and what I truly believe in. But, it wasn’t a fully positive experience for me. I, like a lot of people, went into religion and learned that it wasn’t for me. A huge divide created within my mind; On one hand, I really enjoyed my time with my new friends who had so much in common with me, which was extremely rare. We constantly bonded over similar music tastes; The biggest being Underoath. On the other hand, I started to realize that, though I have nothing against religion, I realized that I didn’t have a religious bone in my body. Despite all that we had in common, my newfound realization alienated me from my new friends. They no longer wanted to be a part of my life, regardless of my character and the numerous things we had shared interest in other than religion. What I’m getting at here, is that I ended up abandoning faith in a God, but I still had faith in something else: Music. In part, my salvation ended up coming from bands like Underoath rather than religion.
More recently and much to my surprise, I was told that I’m not a true Underoath fan if I’m not Christian. That’s just pure BS and I’m not sorry if that offends you. You don’t have to be a Christian to appreciate and adore Underoath’s music, let alone any band who associates themselves with a given religion. You don’t go to an Underoath concert because they are Christian, you go to an Underoath concert to hear them play and see them perform. You don’t buy or listen to an Underoath album because they are Christian, you buy an Underoath album because you are fond of their music and want to support them as a band. Sure, the fact that they have Christian ideals may draw some in, but that ultimately isn’t why we enjoy them and it sure as hell isn’t a requirement to be their fan.
Finally, I remember when Underoath announced their Rebirth Tour. Of course, everyone went into a crazy frenzy when they released the big news, as did I. But, I was disappointed in some individuals both on my newsfeed as well as in their comments who were criticizing certain band members. This is a problem that has been happening for quite some time as a divide split between the band. First of all, much like me, certain members grew up and realized that religion is not something they’d like to pursue. Kids who are young are easily malleable in regards to certain beliefs, especially when their group of friends are into those beliefs as well. Not to mention, kids who have issues, whether it be addiction or emotional troubles, turn to religion for solace, which is good because that may have given them the drive they needed to turn their life around or get better. But, once an individual gets older they start making more informed decisions based on what will make them happy, rather than others happy. You have to remember that Underoath’s members were all still relatively young when they started in Underoath. It’s perfectly natural that some members grew out of religion and came into their own. Still, people criticize band members, in particular, Spencer, for making this change. I was appalled to see and hear how much judgement was placed upon him. Being a Christian does not make you above another and that judgement really upset me both morally and emotionally, because I’ve experienced it in a fan level. Though I know Spencer is tough and doesn’t care, it’s still not right.
Overall, much like people are brought together by religion, they are also brought together by music. I’ve experienced troubles and backlash from being a non-believing Underoath fan, but nothing will ever stop me from being a die-hard fan of their music. People are afraid to address religion-based issues, but I’m not. Again, I’ve had many positive experiences with Underoath fans, but that doesn’t discount the fact that some issues still need to be addressed. Why can’t we just be in the moment and enjoy their music? Because, really when we are in the crowd we aren’t defined by demographics, such as race, ethnicity, religion, etc, we are one unit with one very important commonality: We love Underoath and that’s truly, in the end, all that should matter.
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