“Rock never died!”
This sounds like an argument that can be discussed amongst anyone ranging from a group of teenagers at the mall to highly educated musicologists to well-adjusted generation X’ers now living in the suburbs with a family of four. In our previous blog, we explored Flea’s outspoken thoughts on rock music dying in the 90s. While he certainly had some valid points, we took some time to dive even deeper this week and guess what? Heavy metal and hard rock are making a heavy-duty resurgence that is inarguable!
Did metal ever really die? We can philosophize about that all damn day, but the fact of the matter is it’s alive, well, and it just as well might as well be the 80s again. Rather than running our mouths, we ought to break down the rhyme and the reason behind this. While debating on whether rock is dead or not, I think we can all come to an agreeance that it at least hibernated for a little bit during the early 00s up until recently.
Whether you think metal is past its prime or ready for another heyday, here are some of our reasons for metal being music’s biggest comeback kid we’ve seen in a hot minute:
1.) Shifts in performance landscape
There have been some major shifts in performance landscape over the past decade and a half. Gone are the days where a stadium show was preference and you’d be kidding yourselves if you thought Los Angeles and New York were the only major music hubs in the country.
Club shows are back. Promoters are taking a very “if you build it, they will come” approach when it comes to offering affordable pricing at intimate venues and really taking not of concertgoer trends. This allows them to book stacked lineups without worrying about busting their budget and losing their ass.
Festivals are also proving to be a hot commodity with industry giants Live Nation and AEG Live both taking note. They have staked their claim in having their hand ins genre-building festivals such as Houston Open Air, River City Rock Fest, and the first ever Texas Mutiny Fest. Outside of the big guns, there is a plethora of events being produced across the country in partnership with Danny Wimmer Presents. Founder Danny Wimmer has created a rock festival branding platform aptly called “The World’s Loudest Month” with events running every weekend from late April through May ranging from Fort Rock in Ft. Meyers, FL to Carolina Rebellion in Charlotte, NC to Rocklahoma in Pryor, OK.
Live Nation has also rolled out a “Ticket to Rock” program that is essentially a “season pass” to attend tours by Disturbed and Breaking Benjamin, Korn, Rob Zombie, and Slipknot/Marilyn Manson. According to a piece in Billboard, ticket allotments range from 2,000 to 6,000 per market and have sold out everywhere. Promoters are hoping to see the same success in this program as the “Mega Pass” saw for country music a few years back.
2.) Reunions and final performances
We didn’t want to make this our first point as it seems like it states the obvious, but can we please talk about the insane reunions going down this year?! Guns N’ Roses created a media explosion when they announced that not only would they be reunited at Coachella, but they would be going on a full-country romp as well (Side note: see our list of ticket contests!). Not too shortly after, The ORIGINAL Misfits (with Danzig included) proclaimed that they’d be reuniting for RiotFest this summer and the internet almost keeled over and died with excitement.
On the flip side, “all good things must come to an end” and living legends like Black Sabbath have decided close out their illustrious career with two nights in Birmingham, UK. People across the globe have taken to social media to proclaim their travel plans and ensuring that these icons go out with a bang.
3.) Other styles are fleeting
In the late 90s and early 00s, pop music, boy bands, and frankly, a whole lot of music that made you shake your head and go, “wtf?!” seemed to take center stage for a longer grip of time than we care to discuss. As middle school teenyboppers are now well into their mid-twenties and thirties, it seems as those everyone has grown up realized how fleeting pop of the past can be. Rave kids of the mid-90s seem to be calming down as well and don’t want to “vibe out” and guzzle drinks and do drugs all hours of the night. But, lifestyle and culture aside, the most timeless music has substance. It goes beyond being “cool” and being part of a scene. That’s something metal never really cared about.
You walk into a show these days and see young teenage fans beginning to marvel at the careless vigor of their idols as well as middle-aged people with just as much sprightly energy as the young bucks. The common thread is that they are there to see real performers with real lyrics and a ruthless attitude that doesn’t care what anybody thinks of them. They’re not into people dancing around to pre-programmed beats looking to be plastered all over the cover of magazines. If there’s one thing that never goes out of style, it’s being real, and metal is just that.
4.) It never really went away
Blah blah blah about ticket sales and numbers—metal may have simmered down in the forefront of popular music, but did it ever really go away?
In addition the reunions and farewell shows, there are countless young acts carrying the torch and the proverbial flame has never burned brighter. Promoters have taken note and according to that same article in Billboard, Kevin Lyman, founder of the Warped Tour comments on how Dave Wimmer and company have nailed down a recipe for success pairing “elder statesmen” like Rob Zombie, Slayer, Korn, and more with fresh blood like Horizon, A Day to Remember, Of Mice and Men, and other Warped alums. And right smack-dab in the middle are acts who flourished and have earned their keep in their keep as stalwarts in the industry like Breaking Benjamin and Chevelle.
Spotify statistics show that metal is currently the most listened to style globally with pop being a pretty distant second. That’s insane!
Metal may be a little different than it used to be, but all good things are constantly evolving and we’ve seen the style take advantage of modern landscapes, social media, digital distribution, and more.
If one thing’s for sure, it’s that the“rock and roll is here to stay” mentality has never proved more to be more true that right here and right now.