For decades, rock & roll has been more than just a genre of music. It has united people, it has made memories that would last a life time, it has been there when you were happy, it has been there when you were sad, and it will be there for you until the day you are worm food. But just like anything else, rock has evolved and changed over the years.
Rewinding back to Woodstock where bands like Jefferson Airplane and Jimi Hendrix were entertaining acid tripping hippies in the middle of a field. They claimed to have found the meaning of life! In reality, they just dropped too much acid. But they did witness the new music revolution.
Entering the 1970’s, hard rock exploded. Bands like Led Zeppelin, Thin Lzzy, and AC/DC were rocking the other side of the world. While in America, the radio airwaves were ruled by disco. Despite the overrated disco fade, little names like Alice Cooper, KISS, and Van Halen became an iconic part of American music history.
After disco had died, something odd happened in the 80’s. Heavy metal gained some serious popularity. Metal acts all over the world filled arenas and other venues. Every guy wanted to be them and every woman wanted be with them. Yes, for a short time metal was the cool thing. While metal was mainstream in the mid 80’s, a new monster was created in the world of hard rock: Guns N Roses. The band came out like a bat out of hell! Not only did they have the look, they had a sound that was meaner and heavier than the hair metal bands that looked like them.
Entering the 90’s, hard rock bands influenced by 60’s and 70’s bands ruled the underground. Little did some of them know that they would be part of the new wave of rock music. The hair metal era was getting old. Fans were looking for something new. Then a scene in Seattle, Washington changed the game. Its doomy, dirty sound helped give the sub genre its name, grunge. Seattle helped spawn bands such as Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Mother Loves Bone, Pearl Jam, The Melvins, and a little name known as Nirvana. Music that wasn’t about partying, being bad, or corny heartbreak ballads. It was about . . . .well . . . .feelings. It was music that connected with the current generation. It was short lived but made a lasting impact. Along with the grunge bands, a new wave of alternative rock bands made their mark on rock history. Stone Temple Pilots, Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth, and Collective Soul just to name a few.
Going into the 2000’s, hard rock took a unique turn. The post grunge era produced some talented bands that continue to have massive success today. Foo Fighters, Nickleback, and Creed were on magazine covers all over the place, and owning the music billboard. While bands like Seether, Smile Empty Soul, Breaking Benjamin, and Stone Sour took on a heavier approach than their influences.
Now that I have given a brief history of what we know as hard rock, I want to look at what is going on in the rock world today. About a month ago, I was sitting in my room watching the Loudwire Awards. Just like any other music award show, there was performances. Anthrax, Power Trip, and Body Count destroyed the stage in the name of metal! But when the rock bands took the stage it was honestly strange. In all due respect to the fans of these bands, I couldn’t dig it. They weren’t making my rock and roll blood flow. It was time for me to accept that hard rock is evolving once again.
One band that caught my eye a few months ago when I saw Halestorm was Starset from Columbus (pictured above). I knew nothing about them. Musically, they were more electronic than your average rock band. However, I had to give them credit. They put on a show for their fans. I mean, they went all fucking out! Fans got their money’s worth. After they got off stage they really had me thinking. Listening to their sound, I could tell they were influenced by bands like Seether and Breaking Benjamin. It dawned on me that they grew up listening to those bands liks I did. Now they apply thay influence to their sound. The tide was starting to turn. There is nothing anyone can do about it.
Honestly, I am concerned with the current state of hard rock. But I refuse to not give it a chance. One of the worst attitudes for music fans of any kind is to deny all modern bands and artists. You’ll hear, “Its not what it used to be! Everything just sucks! It will never be the same!”. Yes, things change. Nothing will be what it was in the past. But new, good music is out there and you have to find it.
About a few years ago, I made a personal decision that made a positive impact on my personal life. With the internet growing, I made it my primary source to stay current with music and I turned terrestrial radio off. The airwaves were stuck in the past. Too bland for me. Thanks to some kind souls in Kent, Ohio, I was able to have an internet radio show that didn’t follow those poor practices.
So how does one find new bands? Apps such as Reverbnation and Bandcamp can help you find unsigned bands that play the music you like to hear, and in your area! Google isn’t a bad option if you want to find up and coming artists. Join a Facebook group with fans just like you. They tend to have great ideas. I get my modern hard rock fix from the local scene. Bands that love to play the music and share the experience with you. And they’re right in your back yard!
Rock n roll is not going anywhere. It may not be what it used to be, but there’s good reason for that. What if all the bands after The Beatles became similar to The Beatles? You wouldn’t have Led Zeppelin. If Dave Grohl tried to mimic what Kurt Cobain did do you think the Foo Fighters would have been the band they are today? Nope! Grohl moved on and made his sound. Cherish the classics. Give the present a chance. Things maybe much different today, but the music continues.
Seth Lipocky is a heavy metal dj on krmaradio.com. His show, Sunday Bloody Sunday, is on every Sunday from 8 to 11 p.m. EST.