Rock of ages

Have you noticed that every decade, there’s a new obituary for rock ’n’ roll? The day the music died in the 1950s was followed by Altamont in the late 1960s. Every decade has its share of forgettable music, and rock was on life support through the 1970s and 1980s. But then it died again in the 1990s when Kurt Cobain took his own life, or so we were told.

There was a time recently when I thought rock might finally be buried, or at least beaten down, by the popularity of rap, hip-hop and techno. It also seemed that corporate radio was helping rock commit suicide by homogenization.

Yet, there always will be young people with passion (and guitars) to revive rock in one form or another. And as an art form, it has been amazingly resilient.

This decade may end up being labeled as the era when rock went do-it-yourself. The lo-fi approach is a logical conclusion when the music business tries to push out non-conformity—on which, ironically, rock was built. Our cover story by Becca Costello documents what happens when passion and creativity go out onto the streets of this city and help the scene evolve (see “Guerrilla rock lives!”).

What happens when the music you play doesn’t fit into the local scene? For the quartet that now calls itself Audio Out Send, you find a new location with more receptive audiences. Audio Out Send’s previous incarnation, Lazybones, never quite developed a following in Davis or Sacramento for its sound, which had deep roots in late-1960s-early-1970s psychedelic rock bands like Pink Floyd. So, the band moved to Oakland, changed its name and updated its approach, fashioning a more contemporary musical aesthetic that lies somewhere between Wilco and Death Cab for Cutie. Christian Kiefer, SN&R’s Clubber columnist, describes that journey.

What’s next? Who knows. But it’s coming. We may want to let go of rock, but it won’t let go of us.