Sacramento hipsters

Don’t hate them; cool kids can teach mainstreamers

Photo By Nicholas Avey

Check out Nicholas Avey’s Sacramento party pics at

hip·ster (hip´ster) n. [slang]
1. Someone who is hip.
2. Creative but annoying 20-something poseur.
3. Total jhole dbag.

Last year, Time Out New York magazine declared that East Coast hipsters must die. Earlier this year, Southern California’s LAist referred to hipsters as “assholes,” superficial “soldiers of fortune of style” that lack heart. Even here at SN&R, there was for years an unwritten ban on the word itself appearing in these pages.

So who the hell are these hipsters, and why are they so annoying? The stop-sign-running fixed-gear cyclist in tight jeans, are they a hipster? If so, jerk. The barista that messed up your latte, too busy clamoring about the latest Justice single? Definitely a hipster, definitely a pain. Cool indifference, slacker nonchalance, self-prescribed martyrdom—just because something’s mainstream doesn’t mean it’s to be rejected. Sacramento isn’t My Lai; you don’t have to kill a scene to save a scene.

But in spite of everything, do hipsters deserve hate? Whether it’s jealousy, personal vendetta or media censure, they get a bum rap. There’s lots to admire—thriftiness, utilitarian instincts, fun-loving playfulness. Hipsters are puppies: one minute, the apple of your pop-culture eye; the next, gnawing on the couch, pissing on your shoes. Hipsters set trends, then kill ’em, but in the end, you still love the bastards.

So let’s focus on the positive: Our convenient, low-cost, have-it-all American life is over. Laters, brah. Change will be hard for us nine-to-five, pizza and Blockbuster mainstreamers. Maybe hipsters can help?

Don’t cringe. The Dow nearly dropped 10 percent in June. We’re gonna need help.

Carbon footprint
It’s obvious Sac hipsters own the solution to the impending energy crisis: There’s nowhere to park in this damn town.

No, not cars. There’s no room for bikes: Every tree, pole and sign was taken for a block at a recent Midtown concert. Ten-speeds, fixies, junkers—don’t these kids drive? Lock up to a chain-link fence, head off to the show.

Inside, it was standing-room-only, crowd trickling out the door. A young guy plucked at a 12-string electric, a vintage metronome’s cadence in the background: click, click, ring, click. Outside, there were more bikes, some 15 or so on the patio—what’s going on here?

A decent gathering of 50 made it to that evening’s gig, which was at Atelier, an independent clothing store and designer workshop. Very few revelers used gasoline. A recap: one-to-one bike-to-alt-bro ratio. That’s a zero-carbon footprint.

With all this impending fiscal doom, how will anyone afford partying? The $30 cover-charge crowd will die. Underground party scenes will live.

Party-pic Web sites like The CobraSnake, The Friendattack and Philthy document these clandestine scenes. On the local front, shutterbug Nicholas Avey’s Takeover Tokyo photo log is a worthy addition to the cannon of hipster party-pic URLs. Avey documents a local alt Sac scene where the cover charges are minimal, if nil; the drinks are cheap; and the music is feverishly independent.

And the revelers he photographs, while definitely alt, aren’t shameless. No dude sporting a bowl cut and jellies. Or product placement in the form of dancers dressed as Wrigley’s gum or the like.

Avey updates Takeover Tokyo a few times a week, including after his occasional Monday-night deejay set, Take Flight, at The Press Club. Obama has a vision for change; hipsters have a vision for revelry. We trust that their respective prophecies will endure.

Collapse of slave labor
Investor and consumer confidence is at an all-time low, oil costs are at an all-time high and the government’s running out of tricks to keep the stock market afloat. The crash is no longer a question of if, but when.

This means that the days are numbered for cheaply manufactured Third World clothing imports. Hipsters—whether by happenstance or clairvoyance—see this endgame, and local shops, like the aforementioned Atelier, and designers like Pretty Trashy have turned recycling unwanted thrift and vintage goods into a livelihood. Hip designers give clothes a second chance, screen-printing images on old shirts or reconfiguring outfits by hand, stitch and needle. Gotta make things last.

And if you’re not design-savvy, go to the source, thrift stores on boulevards peripheral to Midtown/downtown. Local designer Liz Liles (see Scene&Heard) did exactly this, scouring outlets like Thrift Town, Deseret Industries and Goodwill on a regular basis. She also taught herself how to sew by machine, and soon will open her own indie/vintage boutique.

So don’t cry when your local Anthropologie or J. Crew goes under. Take a pre-emptive strike against designer jeans, Marc Jacobs and the like and support secondhand stores and boutiques—or do it yourself. If you need help differentiating the fashionable from the faux pas, check local blog Painfully Hip (

Death of the daily newspaper
After seven years of President George W. Bush, you need a good bullshit detector to tell good news from the bad. A healthy dose of sarcasm, wit and counterculture is needed to weed the spin from the smarts. Hipster blogs and Web sites can provide the savvy to avoid being Rickrolled by corporate media.

The most popular hipster site online is Hipster Runoff (, run by Carles and purportedly based out of Brooklyn. Now, HRO won’t provide cutting-edge political analysis—or barely any news at all, for that matter—but a week of reading HRO will get you up to speed with alt diction and educated but smarmy takes on pop-culture trends.

Consider a recent post on electroclash, a new wave electronic-dance music genre: “Should we be afraid of Electro taking over humans? Are you more afraid of China, Iran, or Electro? Maybe this [fear] will help us learn to live with the electro recession,” Carles writes. Don’t sell your soul to Ladytron, Le Tigre or the Faint. Don’t let Bush invade Iran before Obama takes over. Cut Copy is the coolest. M83’s“Kim & Jesse” is 2008’s summer-pop anthem.

Don’t worry, it’ll all make sense soon enough. Go buy a courier bag and some shutter shades. When the shit hits the fan, it will be a cool, leisurely slide … dude.