Music festivals were once thought to be the place to see the next pioneers of rock n’ roll, to immerse yourself within the next heathens of the band genre. The Reading & Leeds recently announced line-up, frankly, reflects a fourteen-year old’s Soundcloud playlist which begs the question whether there is a decline in bands within the modern music industry.
If you simply looked upon the first slither of what is known as the music industry the answer would be yes. Not just yes in fact but undoubtedly yes. The rise of mainstream music has been unquenchable within the last decade. An accumulation of four chord songs and simple lyrics which have been described as “catchy” such as Beyoncé’s “if you like it, then you should have put a ring on it” repeated no less than 18 times creates an easy listening experience which requires no intense thought. Radio stations such as radio one and capital raise the foundations for these musicians to claim their dominance due to that easy listening nature which is needed for drivers, those quick trips to the Spar and pondering around the house on a Sunday morning doing effectively more than nothing. With this in mind Melvin Benn – the Leeds and Reading organiser – replied in response to the horrific reaction to their recent announcement which included Pop sensation and far from the first name you come across when thinking of the destitute fields of a music festival, Dua Lipa. “Festivals have to be a reflection of what the public are listening to.”
Based on first glance the decline is extremely evident however this decline can be the fault, but not intentionally and not wholly, of the bands themselves. As a surplus of bands starts to creep unseen onto streaming platforms, for instance, Spotify and Tidal, a lack of direction prevent bands from becoming the next bohemian of the stage. An imaginative “sound” is hard to come by, therefore “guitar music” takes inspiration from its predecessors such as Oasis, Arctic Monkeys and Nirvana. To put this into perspective the band known as The Sherlocks have clearly taken inspiration from the likes of Liam Gallagher and Oasis with an arrogant attitude as they claim to be “the pioneers of guitar music” and are forever comparing themselves to the likes of the Arctic Monkeys and once again Oasis which comes across not as the charming arrogance of the beloved Liam Gallagher but rather a band who are trying to over-compensate for something I will not disclose at this time.
Does this mean within the next ten to twenty years that “guitar music” or bands altogether will fail to exist? Of course not, as Alex Turner profoundly stated “That rock ‘n’roll, eh? That rock’n’roll, it just won’t go away.” Band in today’s society cannot simply be seen as just “guitar music”, they must evolve to the demands of the people and this evolution has not gone unnoticed, more importantly, hasn’t gone unnoticed by NME editor Charlotte Gunn “Since the rise of streaming services, genres are less well-defined and people’s tastes are broader. You aren’t spending a tenner on an album which you consume for weeks on end. You can like a song by Rae Sremmurd and a track by the Magic gang and even a bit of Adele and it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t define you. Artists like King Krule are a good example of someone really pushing the limits of what it means to be in a “guitar band.” I truly believe there is still support for emerging artists but nobody wants to hear another typical indie band.”
Simply even with the fact of the matter that bands are losing their chances upon the major stages such as Reading and Leeds and Wireless, there are smaller festivals on the rise giving bands their main priority such as YNOT and Truck. Include this with Huw Stephen’s BBC introducing which allows unsigned artists to have the chance to get their music played on radio one, you can even start to say “what decline”?
Conclusively, the fact of the matter is that bands aren’t declining, they just aren’t what we expect to perceive as a band anymore. There are now genres such as shoegaze which consists of bands like Diiv and My Bloody Valentine as well as the lo-fi genre which can be seen in Mac Demarco and Beck. They’ve evolved.
Featured image courtesy of Rolling Stone.
Words by Harry Mangham.