To Love or To Gatekeep, That Is The Question

My favorite band of all time is Wallows, but the love I have for the band is rather selfish and even borders on what one could classify as “gatekeeping.”


Jimmy Fontaine

Wallows band members, from bottom left — Dylan Minette, Cole Preston, Braeden Lemasters — posing during a Warner/Atlantic photoshoot May 24, 2018. Wallows was established in 2017 and they recently announced the coming release of their “Remote” album Oct. 23. photo courtesy of Warner Bros Music

by Josie Fox, Opinion Editor


I would say that one of my greatest flaws is the fact that I gatekeep my favorite band, Wallows. The term “gatekeep” recently popped up on my radar when my sister started using it to describe her newfound obsession with Harry Styles. Once I started to truly dissect the word and analyze its meaning, I came to the startling realization that that is almost exactly what I do. 

According to Urban Dictionary, gatekeeping is “when someone takes it upon themselves to decide who does or does not have access or rights to a community or identity.” Unfortunately, this is a rather accurate description of how I gatekeep Wallows. I’ve only ever introduced their music to those closest to me being both family and select friends. However, that does not make me a professional gatekeeper. Traditional gatekeeping within the music industry has produced multitudes of negative effects for musical artists, often nipping the bud of possible growth. 

The reason why I gatekeep Wallows is because I have been there since day one, literally. I knew Wallows before they were even Wallows. I knew them way back when one of the three iconic band members, Dylan Minette, starred in Disney’s “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” Because of that movie I stumbled upon a song called “Surf, Surf, Don’t Drown” by a band called The Narwhals, and I was overwhelmingly obsessed with the summer rock jam.  

Yes, Wallows was formerly titled The Narwhals. And what do you know, one day in 2017 as I was scrolling through my YouTube recommendations, I stumbled upon Wallows’ first single and song ever, which also happens to practically be my favorite, “Pleaser.” From that day on, from the moment my thumb touched the play icon, I have been the most devoted fan of the band and all their creative work.

One of the reasons why I became so devoted was because they started out small. I was just entering the prime of my indie music phase, and I had yet to hear a sound so compelling as Wallows.Their first ever EP was their “Spring EP” which is home to a variety of songs that were more experimental and less rock than their first three singles. Next up in 2019, they dropped their first ever album “Nothing Happens” which also happens to be what I consider their staple album that perfectly defines their sound and vibe. 

Because of this devoted following, the popularity of their songs “Pictures of Girls” from their “Spring EP” and “Are You Bored Yet?” from “Nothing Happens,” naturally makes me frustrated with the latter song becoming a song trending on TikTok. 

Which is precisely why I’ve become hyper-critical of those who claim their favorite Wallows song is “Are You Bored Yet?” when they have other absolute masterpieces on the “Nothing Happens” album like “Scrawny,” “Treacherous Doctor” and “Do Not Wait.” To elaborate, I often consider those who call the trendiest song their favorite, not fans of the band itself, but only of a trend. It’s not a fair perspective, but I’ve caught myself thinking that multiple times as I watch Wallows related TikToks my sister sends me. 

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I can’t stand it when creative growth is overlooked. “Are You Bored Yet?” featured one of the most popular indie artists, Clairo, and personally, the song does not seem completely Wallows. It’s definitely experimental, but the feature artist makes the song seem more mainstream indie than the indie rock Wallows has perfected in various different ways and in various songs. 

So, is it any coincidence that it’s their most popular song? That’s why I feel that the band is under attack by indie trends and mainstream pop culture.They only recently gained popularity because Dylan Minette starred in “13 Reasons Why,” or at least that’s how one could look at it. 

I don’t think we ever mean to get uncontrollably attached to things, perhaps not even uncontrollably. However, I don’t ever want my crazed devotion to Wallows, or any musical artist for that matter, to hinder their growth. I wholeheartedly acknowledge that I am a hypocrite! I just recently hopped on the Harry Styles train, but I also don’t want to forget the emotional connection that I’ve made to Wallows’ music and the band members themselves.

Perhaps when I gatekeep the band, it’s just my inherited spurts of passion that overtake me. Regardless, we love claiming things that feel as if they are our own. I clearly have done that with Wallows, and I’m assured that I will probably continue to do so with artists I haven’t even discovered yet. 

No, I do not recommend gatekeeping your favorite band or musical artist, but I also don’t want people to suppress their love and passion for music they genuinely care about. That’s why, as an undying fan of Wallows, I will be concluding with an artist recommendation. Have you ever heard of the band Wallows? I have to say, I highly recommend them.