For those that say Rock n’ Roll is dead let’s just take a look at the first four plus months of 2016, shall we?
To start, hell froze over and Guns N’ Roses is back. Rumored to be reuniting for quite some time, the band officially announced they would be playing April’s Coachella festival, preceded by two shows in Las Vegas and surprise first show at the Troubadour on April 1st (not a joke). Finally, the “Not in this Lifetime” tour gets underway at the end of June. The band disappears for 23 years and immediately comes back and plays stadiums. Not arenas, stadiums. Let’s reiterate, to kick off 2016 in rock, Gun N’ F’n Roses reforms.
Axl Rose didn’t think that would be enough on his plate so we are now seeing him front ACDC as well. While we are discussing unforeseen rock shows, how about Iggy Pop and Josh Homme? Their record Post Pop Depression, which is technically in the Iggy Pop catalog, was released on March 18th. The music is a unique blend of Pop’s raw punk sound mixed with the melodic crunch of Homme. The band, which has included Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders, Dead Weather guitarist Dean Fertita, Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen and Chavez’s Matt Sweeney on bass was out on an early spring North American tour and are now making the rounds in Europe.
Moving up to Seattle. Chris Cornell is currently in the midst of a 54 date worldwide tour. Just the man, his guitar and his superhuman voice, with the occasional harmonica and cello player. Pearl Jam is wrapping up an east coast North American tour where they have been playing epic three hour, electrifying sets. The band is simply better than ever. Alice in Chains just announced their 14 date summer tour as well.
By now, we all know touring is the heartbeat of the music industry in this day and age. Take a look at the amount of tours we have already seen in ‘16 plus those that are on the horizon, and we have an abundance of great rock options this year. At a glance, you have your straight ahead rock shows from Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Bush, Cage the Elephant, Garbage, Candlebox, Neil Young, 311, Iggy Pop and Josh Homme, Janes Addiction and Cornell. The festival circuit, which features the likes of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead, and Mumford & Sons and the aforementioned reunions of Guns N’ Roses and LCD Soundsystem.
As far as new music goes, at the top of the pile we have The Getaway from the Red Hot Chili Peppers coming out on June 17th. This will be their first release since 2011’s I’m With You. The lead single “Dark Necessities” is arguably one of the best Chili Pepper songs in years. Radiohead had one of the more mysterious and ingenious marketing plans as they completely wiped their websites of any content before suddenly introducing us to their new tune “Burn the Witch” and then the full length record, A Moon Shaped Pool, on May 8th.
The Strokes, Alter Bridge and potentially Incubus, remain as the few in the “still to be released” category this year as Candlebox, Deftones, Filter, Band of Horses (Why Are You OK out in June, singles “Casual Party” and “In a Drawer” are out) and Garbage (Strange Little Birds out in June, lead single “Empty” is out) have already released their new music. The Candlebox record, Disappearing in Airports, is one of the best records of the year so far.
2016 is also a big year in the world of anniversaries. Pearl Jam’s debut record, Ten and Temple of the Dog’s self-titled and only record, both reach the 25 year milestone this year as does the legendary Lollapalooza festival. Alternative rock pioneers Jane’s Addiction, will commemorate the 25th Anniversary of their critically acclaimed album Ritual de lo Habitual, with the Sterling Spoon Anniversary Tour. These concerts, which also serve as a tribute to the early years of Lollapalooza, will be part of an exclusive run leading up to Jane’s main stage performance at Lollapalooza’s 25th Anniversary on July 30 in Chicago.
I can debate against myself here and say – Yes, classic rock is firing on all cylinders, but where are all the new rock bands? The 20 somethings making a splash on the scene? The truth is, they are out there, you just have to go find them. In a world of “now” and social media madness, it’s ironic because you are really not spoon-fed a ton of new rock music. Major labels do not sign many of them because the ROI is not quick enough. Many major bands now control their business and serve as their own labels given they have had the success and the means to do so. That’s a very hard business model for a band on the rise to catapult off of, which is why the more rapid, smaller-dose release tactic is often the go-to, with of course, massive amounts of touring (where the real money happens).
Bands like White Reaper, The 1975 and Young the Giant have proven there is a new wave of rock influenced music out there in the universe. Though they are not technically “brand new” they are within the younger generation using their creativity and passion for Rock n’ Roll, to make an impact. With educational after school organizations like School of Rock out there, perhaps young musicians with instruments in hand can be inspired by all that has unfolded in rock music so far in 2016.
Unfortunately, we’ve also lost a few legends in the passing of David Bowie, Glen Frey and Prince. You have to imagine they’ve found each other, huddled up and are giving the world the – keep going, keep on rockin’ in the free world, it’s going to be OK. Anything can happen. After all, right now we have Axl Rose fronting both a reunited Gun N’ Roses and ACDC, while singing live from Dave Grohl’s throne. Who would have ever expected to hear that sentence?
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