Why '90s Bands, Like Pearl Jam, Are Still Relevant
Rock would be dead if '90s alternative rock bands called it quits. So why has it become cool to hate on them and discredit their relevance? We all know complainers who claim they don't know why they still attend Pearl Jam shows, yet purchase the band's new album and keep coming back for more.
See also: Pearl Jam Haven't Been Relevant in Years, So Why Do We Still Clamor to See Them Live? via Village Voice
Are people just attending concerts out of habit or nostalgia? With the cost of most big time rock concerts being $80 and up, especially after ticketing fees and parking, we think not. Pearl Jam still packs stadiums like it's 1996. In February, Pearl Jam became Chicago's Wrigley Field fastest concert sell-out ever. Ever. Other alt rock bands, like the Foo Fighters, NIN and Red Hot Chili Peppers have a similar success. These bands prove their relevancy each time they release a new album and it tops the charts. Pearl Jam's Lightning Bolt debuted at Number 1 on Billboard Top 200 and sold over 165,000 in the first week to people who are still craving alt rock.
Most '90s band members are in their mid-forties and have children. They're no longer playing shows drunk or getting high with fans; some barely enter paparazzi radar. What these bands are doing, however, is giving more back to their fans. They're playing longer shows; offering enhanced concert experiences; and collaborating with other musicians, which is why it's still worth it to attend a concert of a '90s band.
Yes, you can predict Eddie Vedder's stage moves, but that shouldn't stop you from attending a Pearl Jam concert. Vedder's vocals sound as poignant as ever and the band performs upwards to 34 songs per concert, a vast contrast to newer bands, like Of Monsters and Men who generally only play 15 songs live, simply because don't have enough tracks in their Rolodex. Also since '90s bands have a larger catalog of songs, their set lists are more unique which allows you to enjoy multiple shows per tour. If merch matters to you, '90s bands usually can afford to produce more collectible items, like DMB's posters for example, which can be minor investments. And bonus: The crowd at a '90s band concert usually consists primarily of people in their 30s (and up) who have retired from being obnoxious crowd-surfers or uber territorial pit bitches.
If '90s bands stopped producing new records, the airwaves would be saturated with sappy folk riffs and indie rock choruses that contain clapping and/or whistling. Yes, Mumford and Sons, Florence and the Machine, Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, Peter Bjorn and John, and The Lumineers, we're looking in your direction. It seems like these campy folk bands are classified as 'rock' by default since the category is currently empty. The Black Keys are the closest thing to rock the industry has seen since 2007, and even then, their omnipresent heavy fuzz tone borders 'campy' and reminds us more of a marching band than a rock band.
L.A.'s visceral rock goddess, Queen Kwong is right, everyone is pussyfooting around rock. When hipster culture hit mainstream, everyone grew a beard, grabbed a tambourine and formed a band with five of their friends. In the '90s, it only took three band members to create a sound that changed a generation. (Yes, we're referring to Nirvana). Doc Martens and flannel came back in style, but grunge music stayed home. Is the current generation of musicians not experiencing enough angst to produce something with more cojones?
The gritty pulse of alt rock's guitar-heavy sound still appeals to today's youth, which explains why roughly every seventh song on the radio for the past 20+ years has been a Nirvana or Smashing Pumpkins song. Teens who weren't even born before Kurt Cobain's death embrace Nirvana as rabidly as they embrace bands in today's Top 40. It's time for contemporary artists to step up to the plate and take another swing at alt rock and for naysayers to realize it's OK to embrace new music from '90s bands because there would be a massive void in rock if those bands retired. Numbers don't lie. We know you like it. Enjoying '90s bands doesn't have to be a guilty pleasure.
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