How to Play the Indie Rock Game

The game of indie rock is a delicate and mysterious dance that should be played with care. Here is how to play it.


  1. Image titled Play the Indie Rock Game Step 1
    Get to know indie rock. There's no chance you'll win a game of Monopoly if you've only got a dollar and the thimble. The same logic with the indie rock game applies here: you've gotta come prepared.
    1. Start studying by reading "Our Band Could be Your Life", learn about the rising of indie labels like Dischord, SST, Sub Pop, etc.
    2. Then start fishing around on the internet, check (there's a ton of indie stuff there).
    3. Get to know the artists' music. Is it really indie rock? Is it pop? Know your history about the bands you're listening to. Did the drummer leave for record 2 but come back by record 4? Did the lyrics get insanely weak on record 5? Is the only original member left by record 2 the bassist?
    4. Find other people who are into indie rock. These types are easy to find. Just go to the hippest rock club you can find in your town or nearby and walk up to anyone who is standing completely still while watching a band. Another good sign is that they're drinking the cheapest beer available from a tall can. Note that if someone is talking during a band's set they are most likely not into indie rock or the indie rock game (unless the band on stage is viciously bad; then it's a wild card).
  2. Image titled Play the Indie Rock Game Step 2
    Start playing the indie rock game. As mentioned before, the indie rock game is a delicate and mysterious dance that should be played with care. However, it should be initiated at the drop of a hat. The rules seem simple enough, but there are many delicate details.
    1. the indie rock game always starts with "hey, have you heard the new " " record? It's the proper beginning question as it is none too threatening and allows the opponent the option to pass on playing. However, if the opponent locks eyes with you and says "yes", it's on!
      • The proper response to the initial question is "yes I have, but their last record was better". Thus far we've established a serve and a return, and now a volley has started and the game can go anywhere from here.
    2. BAND OFF! each party in the game now frantically starts listing bands that are similar to the indie band initially mentioned. You don't even have to wait for the other party to finish before you can jump in. Every time your opponent doesn't know of a band, you get 5 points; every time you get into specifics like line up changes and record titles that your opponent is unaware of, you get 10 points and vice versa.
    3. How major is too major? This is one of those questions that is very delicate as opinions vary greatly, so play with care. While you can say Nirvana was a gateway band to many other indie bands, they might be a little too major, as in Panic At the Disco, Duran Duran, and John Tesh (though he is not indie rock, and if anyone ever plays the "Tesh Card", they are automatically disqualified). However, if you were into these bands while they were muddling around pre-major record label, you can score pretty high. For example, I met a guy who saw the Police play in a bar with just him, his friend, and the bartender. If that's not capture a band at the peak of there indie-ness, I don't know what is. Such a stellar feat of catching a band before they broke is worth at least 250 points.
    4. How indie is too indie? Yet another delicate issue. Since the point of the indie game is to stump your opponent by showing you have more indie knowledge and credibility, you want to know as many bands as possible, but the catch is that they should be good indie bands. Local and Regional bands are allowed, but if they've never put out a record, play out very infrequently, or you happen to be dating someone who's in the band, it doesn't count, and can lead to disqualifications. Making up indie bands on the spot doesn't count either. If the band is a local band and your opponent chooses to look up their music within three days of the game, and can get a form signed by 20 people that says they've listened to band "x" and find them unbearably awful then your points can be revoked.
    5. Have the Dance Off: if it becomes clear that both parties are well versed in indie rock, the only way to settle the game is with a good indie rock dance off. Put on some Bad Brains or early Smiths and shake what your mother endowed upon you. The winner of the dance off is the one with the most unique indie rock like dance moves who comes off the least concerned about it.
      • (yes we go down from 6). Winning: the winner of the indie rock game is the one with the most points or the winner of the dance off. Remember, any local bands used for points can potentially be revoked within 3 days if the loser can prove that he and 20 other people find the local band(s) mentioned to be absolutely unbearable and not worth the garage they practice in. So don't celebrate immediately, instead, shake your opponent's hand, walk off into the corner, and watch the rest of the show. Once it's officially determined that you've won, you can start a blog with which to brag about your victory or your can add it to any already existing blog about how great you are. Tell friends and family, make a shirt that says "All your indie is belong to me", buy a pet and brag to it ALL the time about your vast indie rock knowledge. It's these victories that make you a better person. As they say, give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day, whoop a man's ass at the Indie Rock game and he'll eat his shoe for a week!


  • the grand championship of Indie Rock Gaming takes place all the time at Local Mom and Pop Record Shops. If you really wanna test your skills, go and attempt a round of the Indie Rock game with the person behind the counter. This will be the greatest challenge of your life and is not of beginners or intermediates to the sport.


  • watch out for fake band names, modern top 40 country, jazz, swing, light opera, and funk. For some reason, the complete works of Gilbert and Sullivan qualify as indie rock, but nothing else operetta or musical based makes the cut. Don't give me that funny look Godspell.

Things You'll Need

  • knowledge of the vast and every growing sphere of indie rock. Consider these categories of indie rock
  • early indie rock pioneers
  • current up and coming indie rockers
  • current lower level up and coming indie rockers
  • current regional bands
  • current local bands
  • defunct yet inspiring indie bands
  • you'll also need a Card with a picture of John Tesh if you decide you want to throw in the towel.

Article Info

Categories: Party Games