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Here’s proof that rock is still not dead

With all the attention hip-hop and R&B got at Coachella Beychella, you’d be forgiven if you as a rock fan have been abandoned and left behind, your music trashed and abandoned. Well, not quite.

While it’s true that hip-hop has become the premiere driving cultural force when it comes to music (at least in the US, the biggest net exporter of pop culture in the known universe), rock is still holding it own. In fact, it’s not that rock has gotten smaller; it’s more like other genres have gotten bigger, fast.

Rock is doing fine, thank you–especially if we look at the rock festival circuit in America. It seems to be going strong. Take a look at this article from Loudwire.

Foo Fighters, Tool, Alice In Chains, Muse, Queens of the Stone Age, System of a Down, Deftones, Halestorm, Stone Sour, At the Drive In, Avenged Sevenfold, Body Count, Quicksand, Power Trip, Code Orange.

They’re all among the biggest and most relevant rock bands of the past two decades. And they have something else in common: they’re all playing some of America’s rock festivals this summer, including Florida’s Welcome to Rockville, Ohio’s Rock on the Range and North Carolina’s Carolina Rebellion. But if you only read mainstream music publications, you might not be familiar with those events. Most websites and print media are likely to spend their resources covering trendier events, like Lollapalooza, the Austin City Limits Festival and, of course, Coachella.

Over the weekend in Indio, California, Coachella kicked off the summer festival circuit. The festival, which started in 1999 with headliners Tool, Beck, and Rage Against the Machine, has been framed over the years as an arbiter of taste. This year’s headliners include three of the biggest pop stars in the world: Beyonce, Eminem and the Weeknd. This marked a first in the festival’s history: there has always been at least one rock headliner on the bill. In fact, the entire three-day lineup is pretty light on guitar-driven rock acts, although there is a handful, including St. Vincent, X JapanHighly SuspectA Perfect Circlethe Bronx and Greta Van Fleet.

Coachella’s lineup has led to mainstream headlines questioning the health of rock music: The Los Angeles Timestrumpeted, “Coachella is Going Without a Single Rock Headliner for the First Time,” saying that the festival is following an “obligation to reflect the true shape of pop at a given point in time. In the streaming era, that means hip-hop and R&B, as opposed to rock.” Further, the Times said that this year’s lineup “feels like a credible snapshot of music as it’s really happening in 2018.”

It’s a big — and incorrect — assumption that a lineup that prominently features the laid-back indie rock sounds of Portugal. The Man and Fleet Foxes, or the commercial hip-hop sounds of Migos and Cardi B, resonates with the entire country. To many, guitar-driven hard rock and metal is still “music as it’s really happening in 2018.”

You must keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37401 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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