The 2000’s Garage Rock Revival Revisit: The Timeline (Part 2)
In honor of the 20th anniversary of this blip of a genre, I will be posting a long, personal, rambling series of essays. Some will have stats, most will be very scatterbrained, all will be disputable about one of my favorite genres that may not have been a genre at all….
When last we saw our heroes of the 2KGRR scene, things were mostly still rocking along. Energy and optimism was still very high, and the industry still believed in guitar-based rock music. Everyone was ready for the next Rolling Stones, and that meant they had to enter…
The Era of Big Swings (Late 2004 – Mid 2007)
Ironically, the Era of Big Swing does not include the Big Swing Band Revival. It’s here where we get, as it says, big swings. Swings for the fences, hail-mary sprints to the end zone and a myriad of other sports references. I’ve got it for a span of nearly three years, which includes some releases from new groups (Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand, Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and more follow-ups from our big bands, but the thing is that there aren’t many moments meeting that qualification of “monumental.” These are the attempts by the bands and the companies behind them to make the genre HUGE, to forcibly create stars.
It didn’t work exactly.
During this time we had 3 SNL appearances by 2KGRR bands, a second Grammy win, live albums and DVD’s, and some generally enjoyable music. But many of the genre’s bands delivered their least essential work, all pushed with the engine of a thousand A&R people. Little Steven narrated a short film about the Hives. The Strokes released a video with David Cross (it’s never a great sign when celebrities come in), all in a clear attempt to “go big.”
7/19/2004: The Hives release Tyrannosaurus Hives. It’s good.
8/30/2004: The Libertines release The Libertines. It’s also good. That’s kinda all there is to say. What else can be done by bands but release music? How can they do more than what they’ve already done?
10/29/2004: The Hives film the concert that would become the Tussels in Brussels DVD. Nobody ever said the Hives weren’t trying.
5/30/2005: Arctic Monkeys release the album Whatever You’ve Heard…. Looking back to an earlier point, if the genre had any lasting impact, it came by inspiring greater things. History has been kind to AM, and this is where it started.
12/30/2005: The Strokes release First Impressions of Earth. Like I said, this period has fine music. But it’s just so inessential. It currently has a 68% on metacritic, which is certainly not bad. Some of it I rather enjoy. I’m sure it sold OK… but I’m also sure it didn’t sell nearly what Is This It had. It found the band in a rut, and we could read the writing on the wall.
And that’s about all I have, which should tell us something. For a 3 year period, the most notable moments came when a top band faltered and a soon-to-be-top band released their first album. I don’t mean to crap on this period so much. A lot of the music in here is some of my favorite of the genre. But I was hard pressed to find anything monumental that happened then. I saw concerts, you saw concerts. They released albums, we bought albums. Everyone seemed to be trying so hard to get something to stick.
That was kinda it. They were trying. We saw them trying. Maybe seeing them trying so hard made the coolness wear off. Case in point:
10/17/2007: The Hives release The Black & White Album. Their longest album ever, it had bigger guitars, longer songs, weirder tracks, a collaboration with N.E.R.D., they also worked with Timbaland around this time. They tried EVERYTHING. And yet… it’s ok. And just “ok” is sometimes equivalent to death.
It’s Over (Early 2008 – Early 2009)
A genre which is difficult to define would naturally result in a difficult-to-define end point. We don’t have a Woodstock/Altamont moment, or a Cobain’s-suicide incident to point to. The thing just kinda petered out/kept going without most bands stopping. Emphasis on most, and for want of a better end point, I could think of no better one than:
2/20/2009: The White Stripes’ last performance is at Conan’s last “Late Night” show. For all my talk of being a professional-like writer, you’d think I would have planned this. You’d think I would have purposely built up Conan’s importance to the genre, along with the rise of the Stripes. But I didn’t. It just kind of happened, and when I learned that their performance of “We’re Gonna Be Friends” was the Stripes’ final performance — on the show that championed so many of the genre’s best acts — it seemed too perfect not to pick. This was the end, everyone. That was it.
You can find the full timeline HERE, since there are no spoilers any more. Let me know if I missed any major events, like when the Franz Ferdinand guys first bought a guitar string or something.