“Dinosaurs were just really, really big chickens/Growing up is just being a really big kid.” – The Doubleclicks, “Really Big Chickens”
I first heard this lyric around a year ago, in the lead up to interviewing Nerd Folk Rock band The Doubleclicks for our podcast. I was listening to their songs to prep for the interview while sitting at a job I didn’t like, feeling like I didn’t fit in with tons of “adult” responsibilities crashing down on my shoulders. And I found tears streaming down my face, because just that one lyric spoke to me so much.
Last night, I had the pleasure of finally getting to see Aubrey and Angela Webber play their songs live. They played that song, and I cried again. I cried a few times last night, actually, including once over the fate of a Mars Rover with Imposter Syndrome. The two sisters from Portland have such an authenticity to their song writing that it’s impossible not to feel something as you listen to them play. I laughed, I cried, and I thought about life and the world for a while.
The Doubleclicks are a big part of what I’m calling the Empathy Movement in nerd and geek culture. Some time in the last decade or so, a bunch of us in nerddom looked around and said, “Hey – wouldn’t this all be more fun if we stopped being dicks and took care of each other?” This really, really simple idea has lead to masterworks like Steven Universe and New World Magischola, works of art where making sure the people around you are and feel safe is the most important part.
Angela and Aubrey really took off a few years back with their song, “Nothing to Prove.” It’s a song about the way that nerds can be gatekeepers on their own fandom, deciding that only they can declare who a “true fan” is. These fans went on to decide that girls couldn’t possibly be geeks, and that they must be hanging out at comic shops and conventions because they wanted “attention.” If you’re thinking, “That sounds dumb as hell,” you’re right, but let’s listen to the Doubleclicks say it more eloquently:
“Nothing to Prove” is a perfect example of why artists like The Doubleclicks are so important today. The Webbers are clearly pissed off, but the song never goes any further than calling these gatekeepers what they are: bullies. Instead, it’s a deeply personal story told in a way that invites empathy. The Doubleclicks write songs that can reach across the aisle and explain to someone why they’re being an asshole, but without ever losing the edge of anger that we even need to be having this conversation.
If you go to a Doubleclicks concert, you’re going to leave feeling good about the world. You’ll have spent two hours in a space filled with people who really care about each other, and really want the world to be better. And on top of all that, they still find time to really, deeply care about Dinosaurs.
And really, isn’t that the world we want to live in?