Where have all the chart-topping bands of yesteryear gone? This question has made the state of rock and roll in the 21st century one of the most tired topics in recent music news. Yet, every so often, you can still end up in a conversation with some dude that will just not validate any other forms of music and, in classic macho fashion, outright insult you for it. I decided to no longer hold back on my response: it’s dead and the indie movement killed it. Furthermore, that’s the best thing that could have happened to the aging sound; not that it wasn’t already suffering from endless internal conflicts.
Since the year 2000, artists have taken advantage of crazy recording processes like Pro Tools as well as access to quality sounds that, for decades, were simply out of reach. It’s no wonder that more bands have expanded beyond “rock” music, especially when they know listeners are always waiting to jump on the newest sound. Independent hip hop, rock and pop artists constantly blend styles and techniques to push the boundaries of genres, which in return keeps fans pleasantly surprised. Even The Foo Fighters, one of the most significant modern rock acts of today, recognized the importance of diversification when they included a deadmau5 remix on their Wasting Light album. I can understand that there will always be that snobby, hipster quality associated with indie music, but that doesn’t mean every band that doesn’t sound like it could have played at Woodstock ‘69 or ‘99 deserves to be crapped on.
What’s even more annoying is when rock purists claim to be so much more authentic. A generalization? Maybe, but I’ve been fully immersed in that scene, and this definitely applies to the majority. Being roasted for enjoying the occasional 00s hit or a Kanye track has gotten old really quick. Gatekeeping your own scene will inevitably contribute to its downfall, and it’s no surprise that indie has taken over. Inclusiveness is key, and it’s desperately missing from the rock scene. Just take a look at Coachella or Reading: hundreds of stylistically-different artists all in a single event! Could this somehow be tied to the success of these yearly festivals, and consequently, to that of the artists’? Rock is dying, in part, because, it’s fan base can just never be pleased. Whether it’s accessible alternative acts like Mac De Marco or revival bands such as Greta Van Fleet, rockers are always there to remind you that they’re nothing like the Led Zeppelin’s or Queen’s of the past.
From what I’ve observed over the years, I’m confident that when people complain about “rock being dead”, it’s actually code for: “The music I grew up on is the most real and anything other than that is not cool at all”. Truth is, the genre has evolved and found its way into other niches. No one is denying the importance of legendary rock bands, but maybe it’s time to stop basing entire personalities off of them. Indie is just as valid as its predecessors, and when you consider it more as a mindset than a specific sound, you can expose yourself to worlds of great talent.
Written by Davide Spinato
*Edited by Dominic Abate