On Coachella Culture and the "Death of Rock n' Roll"
by Robert Dean
I keep seeing these op/ed’s that all reek of the same lingo: “Rock and Roll is Dead! Bury it next to the family dog and tell all of your friends to burn their acoustic guitars, because beats are the future.”
Repeat this tired headline, and you’ve got what’s been commented on, shared countless times across social media. Well, almost as much as people endlessly blabbering over Beyoncé’s dance-off with her sister.
Here’s the deal about Coachella: no one who likes rock and roll in any of its various forms gives a shit about Coachella. Coachella is a festival dedicated to false idealism, ultra-PC bullshit that’s so extreme no one believes it. Look, I’m Liberal as Fuck, but what pops off at the fashion fest for people who don’t actually like music is not what the rest of the world would consider as normal – avocado toast and all.
Back in the day, the desert festival was a unique mixture of all styles of music. Now that that pop culture isn’t aligned with anything holding a guitar, all things exciting are some nerds singing over music that sounds like it was created in a Gap bathroom. Hey, that’s fine and well, but know what scene you’re trying to sell to. Someone in a flower crown typically doesn’t have their finger on the pulse of what Turnstile is up to.
Rock and Roll needs to move back into the recesses of popular culture and rethink what it’s been doing for the last twenty years. Since Grunge, we’ve had some pretty terrible trends that spawned stuff like Creed, System of A Down, Incubus, and 21 Pilots. Nothing has guts, and all of it is wack. Given the political and social climate of the country, you’d think there has to be a few bands brewing that are capable of capturing the masses once again. It’s possible, but we have to let certain sub-sects of the genre weed themselves out.
Besides, who wants rock music to be super popular anyhow? Do you remember when wearing a leather jacket meant you didn’t give a shit and would fight a nun over the last beer? Or when having a face tattoo meant 'stay far away?' Now your barista has a face tattoo. Rock and Roll needs to get dangerous, get mean again. Don’t worry if David Byrne or the Flaming Lips aren’t drawing what they used to. All that means is the herd is thinning, and the die-hards will get better spots at the bar.
Riot Fest is thriving because it celebrates the diversity of the music, not relying on cheap trends. There are festivals all over the country that are as good, too. Don’t worry that Rock and Roll is ringing the death bell; it’s just going back underground where it belongs. As long as guys like JD McPherson, Dale Watson, The Shack Shakers, and Jack White are still kicking, I think we’re ok.