A descendant of punk rock, Nirvana was one of the most famous bands to make alternative rock music mainstream. Ironically, this genre became popular after the grunge period – which deprecated mainstream, commercial types of music. In addition to Nirvana, some extremely well known and highly successful bands formed around alt rock, including REM – one of the earliest “alternative” bands, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Violent Femmes, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and many others.
In the early days, it was mainly the college radio stations that promoted this sound. In fact, ‘college rock’ was the phrase used to describe alternative rock in the 1980s, before the genre coined as alternative rock music became popular in the mid 1980s. As the popularity of the music grew, other previously separate genres became grouped under alt rock as well. These genres are comprised of post-punk (since alternative rock is offspring of the punk genre), New Wave, indie (also known as independent) rock, pop, and punk rock.
A landmark of alt rock’s popularity, Jane’s Addiction, a band formed in the mid 1980s, frontlined Lollapalozza – the first festival that catered specifically to alt rock music. This was the mark of the rise to fame for alt rock in the early 1990s. The abundance of the alternative genre in America continued throughout the late 1990s and 2000s. Among these bands are Franz Ferdinand, The White Stripes, and The Strokes.
Across the pond, the American grunge spread like wildfire in the 90s. This resulted in some rebellious British bands that opposed American grunge. To express their opposition, British “Britpop” bands emulated the American explosion of alt rock; some of these famous bands include Oasis, Pulp, and Suede.
Alt rock music was made known almost 30 years ago and is still widespread and frequently played on American radio stations. This is most likely a genre that will continue to evolve and further root itself into American culture as the music continues to evolve.
Paramore is one of the newer alt rock bands to become famous. They have three albums released and their popular “Brick by Boring Brick” single is still played on kroq in SoCal and other rock radio stations throughout the United States. They are scheduled to head the Warped Tour this summer at the San Diego location, and continuously sell out stadiums on their tours.
As you can see, alternative rock continues to have a large following and is here to stay for many decades.